Pieter Coecke’s Smokin’ Threads at the Met

THE DAILY PIC: The great tapestry artist designed textiles whose realism still stuns.

Peter Coecke van Aelst Life of Saint Paul detail

The Daily Pic only rarely talks about shows that are over, but in the case of Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, it has no choice: I only caught the exhibition in its closing hours yesterday. Today’s Pic gets at why I think it’s still worth talking about. (Update on Jan. 6: This dope got his dates wrong, and the show closes next Sunday, Jan. 11.) This amazing detail from a bookburning represented in Coecke’s Life of Saint Paul shows the artist, and his weavers, managing to conjure the transparency of smoke from the unlikely medium of warp and weft threads. In general, our post-photographic age finds it almost impossible to recognize who much Renaissance viewers valued the achievements of impressive realism. (I believe there’s an Oxford PhD that delves into the issue…) When it comes to tapestry, their sheer astonishment at finding anything much in the way of illusionistic effects is even harder for us to grasp. We dwell on the larger pictorial effects of tapestries like Coecke’s, and sometimes find them wanting. Whereas I have a feeling that the nobles who walked by these textiles every day were more attuned to getting a good close look at individual, prodigious effects. (Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 65.596)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In