Bibliographica Textilia Historiae

sammlung von texten und literatur über textilien und textilproduktion
zusammengestellt vom konzeptkünstler seth siegelaub (vgl.: künstlerische positionen)



The literature of textiles tends towards a formalism and a conservatism —not only in the sense of “textile conservation”— and is very oriented toward the collecting of objects. It is not surprising that the production of the nineteenth and twentieth century textile literature has been closely linked to museum acquisitions and collections, and the sponsorship of archaeological expeditions. There seems to be a clear aversion to developing a social history of fine textiles; generally its often unstated “problematic” is concerned with the formalism of the “where, when and how” of textiles, locating and dating things, and how their motifs evolved, rather than the “why and what”, the social-cultural-economic aspects. While histories of fine decorative textiles may often have the obligatory citation of Francisque-Michel, Otto von Falke, Julius Lessing, Moriz Dreger, Isabella Errera, et al —admittedly early landmarks in the study of fine textiles— we have rarely, if ever, seen a reference, for example to Alfred Franklin, Florence Edler du Roover, Gustave Fagniez, H.A. Manandian, Adolf Schaube or the Kress catalogues, which would contribute to re-orienting the study of decorative textiles within a broader social and economic context.

Although a more socially-conscious literature has developed recently, particularly concerning the study of contemporary traditional textile production, often called “ethnographic textiles” in the “third world” areas of Asia, South America, Africa, and the United States (especially, native Americans), but it still seems that much work needs to be done to root historic textiles within the fabric of social and daily life.

Another very important development in this area has been the growing literature on the valorization of women’s work in connection to textile creativity, especially the creative history of various forms of domestic embroidery and weaving. There are certainly many other textile areas which would benefit from a more critical social consciousness.

Lastly, the literature is relatively uncritical, or even unconscious, about its own history, about the history of the study of textiles, as there are many areas which remain unexplored or in need of systematic research, as we have tried to point out throughout this introduction.