Writings on Art

Jan standing in front of the tapestry, “Trees in Winter”

Tapestry Weaving – Its Past and Its Future By Jan Yoors 
From Interior News, 1959

The tradition of tapestry weaving goes back 2000 years in time, though it reaches its highest during the Middle Ages in France. It was during this period that tapestries became the form of art most prized by Kings and nobles. Since the 1800’s there has been a period of decline, since tapestries did not keep pace with the experimentation and creativity taking place in other art forms.

Recently, however, there has been a revival of interest in this medium, based on the recognition that tapestry can be a present day idiom if treated in a contemporary manner.

To me, no other art form offers the same stimulation and excitement. The vibrancy of color plus the textural warmth and the monumental scale seem a combination limited only to tapestries.

Traditionally, the weaving of tapestries has been a departmentalized operation – the design created by one artist, the weaving performed by skilled craftsmen. For my purposes, this method did not prove satisfactory. Years ago I realized that my tapestries would only be successful if I controlled every phase of the work, from the selection of yarn to the supervision of its dyeing, from the original design through the complete weaving. This in itself was a radical departure from tradition and long time in coming.

Perhaps my arrival in America can account for some of this break-away from tradition. To an artist, a new country presents a whole new set of impressions – received on many levels. It may be that I have tried to express in my work the overpowering feeling of space and freedom and the dynamic vitality which is unmistakably American.

The future for tapestries seems more promising today than ever before. The phenomenal amount of building taking place demands the use of art on a level and in a quantity unheard of since the days of the Renaissance. Contemporary tapestries can be one of the most exciting forms of wall covering.

What is more, tapestries have a decided advantage over other media commonly in use today. Lighting presents no problems as there are no reflections to contend with. Due to the nature of tapestries – their rich texture and soft surface – brilliant colors can be achieved without harshness. Care and maintenance is remarkably simple: the wools used are color fast and the hangings can be cleaned with an ordinary vacuum cleaner. Of special interest to those thinking in terms of investment is the durability and portability of tapestries. In case of renovation of alteration, a tapestry can be readily removed and still remain intact.