THE PIONEERS

ATTILIANA ARGENTIERI

Italiano (Italian)

This column will present twice a month a historical figure of Italian Fiber Art, present in the book Fiber Art Italiana. I Pionieri.

You can buy it HERE

Attiliana Argentieri was born in Viareggio (1931-2018), as a young girl she moved to Venice where she studied at the Istituto Statale Artistico Industriale, under the guidance of Anna Balsamo Stella, an important Swedish textile artist. In 1952 she became a teacher herself and founded the “Art of Textiles” section at the State Institute of Art in Rovigo, then from 1970 she taught in Udine.

She opened a tapestry workshop, which she made on commission and from her own designs and which were exhibited several times at the Decorative Arts Pavilion of the Venice Biennale: in 1956, 1960, 1968 and 1970.

In addition to her teaching and weaving activities, she is active as a scholar, textile historian and technician: she specializes in the study and cataloging of Friulian folk textiles and related manuscripts, becoming a passionate promoter of activities to recover, enhance and exhibit the Carnic textile heritage.

In 1979 she was among the founders of C.I.E.T.A. (Centre International d’Étude des Textiles Anciens) and C.I.S.S.T. (Centro Italiano per lo Studio della Storia del Tessuto), and in 1987 she published the “Dizionario Tecnico della Tessitura” for the Centro di Catalogazione Restauro Dei Beni Culturali del Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Friulian folk techniques are a continuous source of inspiration for Argentieri to create striking contemporary Fiber Art works. In the 1960s she worked the textile surface by alternating compact and open areas and crossed it with floating ribbing in the red hues of berries against a background of dark tones of weathered wood: Natura. In the 1970s he executed traditional tapestries with the high and low heald technique, in which he focused on the possibilities of fiber to give volume and surface effects, and he also flanked loom weaving with continuous thread techniques: such as crochet, tricot and macramé.

Her proceeding is from the beginning strongly textural-a choice that directs her toward three-dimensionality with a use of raw fibers whose irregularity, roughness, relief and tactility she enhances with a personal mixed technique, using predominantly natural earth tones in all their declinations. Abstraction (1973) projects knitted and knotted bands, in sand, terracotta and earth tones, on the dark loom-woven ground.

In the 1980s she studies the manuscripts of Friulian weavers, of which he catalogs and organizes important reviews; knowledge he pours into her works, adopting their procedures. She then turned to the creation of textile sculptures in which she mixes full-bodied fibers, raw or dyed, with non-textile materials, such as wood and metal, which she inserts into the weaving.

In the series of Sacchi senza cuciture (1980-1999) the volumetry detaches the tapestry from the wall: these are polymateric works in the form of a column or sack, inspired by Friulian tubular weaving interpreted by Argentieri in a contemporary key, which take on the value of soft and monumental sculptures, poor and solemn. Such as: Sacco senza chiusura (1982), which cages in the warp of rough, compact fibers of textile ribbons and wooden rods, with a warm sensory involvement. Said the artist, “I don’t put the cartons under the chain. I need the material as a guide, no longer only the traditionally textile material, which I use with different thickness, wrapped, braided, knotted, in natural color or dyed by me vegetally. In fact, I also use synthetic fibers, other filamentous materials, plastic, wood, which are useful to create contrasts.”

In the new millennium he returns to the two-dimensional tapestry with Venezia (2005), a delicate landscape inspired by the architecture of its palaces, made plastic by the relief columns of the windows; Venezia spiaggia is from 2006, in which he delicately depicts the ripples and reliefs of the sand. An interest in architecture that is also manifested in Ricordi di Architetture Lucchesi (2008), a work inspired by his hometown, composed of six tapestries sloping from the center to the sides depicting ancient medieval palaces with their slender arches and typical loggias, at the center of which he places the Cathedral: a delicate and moving work.

A life dedicated to textiles as historical analysis, recovery of folk traditions, and artistic expression.