Monday, 26 October 2009

The German Reference Artist for Tufted Art Tapestries and Carpets: Ewald Kroner

In previous posts we have already given tribute to both Marie Cuttoli and Charles Slatkin, but it would be remiss of us not to mention the contribution played by Ewald Kroner in Germany. For several decades since the 1960s he has promoted artistic tapestries. Kroner included a number of complementary activities within his remit, such as editor, manufacturer and weaver, but was also able to include that of distributor and designer as well.

After having studied interior architecture, he worked in England, travelled in both Sweden and Finland and then decided to create his own company in 1964. He began by weaving in his own workshop and home. In the 1970s he purchased a 'castle' and transferred his manufacturing to the Schloss Hackhausen. His business succeeded despite the impact of the 1973 oil crisis. He managed his main showroom in Karlsruhe/Dusseldorf and also seems to have had galleries in both Munich and Zurich. His first major event was his participation in the German Pavilion at the 1970 Osaka Expo. Since then his work has been regularly shown in nominative exhibitions of artists, or more institutional events such as for the Deutsche Bank, or even more recently for UBS Lucarno in February 2009. A retrospective show was organised in September 2006.

Ewald Kroner's own production from the 1980s. Image from Ebay 2008

Ewald Kroner was a real technician and an artist in creative weaving. He was a keen supporter of quality and was always ready to challenge the limits of the materials and techniques he used. He employed a number of different fibres in his work, such as New Zealand wool, natural silk and metallic threads. His work could either be tufted or hand knotted, piled or looped. Like Marie Cuttoli, even if he were to produce a majority of piled works, they were intended to be seen as wall hangings rather than carpets for the floor.

The company offered a wide range of possibilities to customers, but for our purposes it is his work in limited edition art tapestries that we wish to focus on. The list of artists produced by Kroner is impressive. The Carpet Index has referenced the following artists: Bauer, Chagall, Claisse, Geiger, Hajek, Herbin, Hundertwasser, Kandinsky, Klimt, Miro, Mondrian, Picasso, Rothko, Vasarely, Warhol, with a special mention for Herbert Bayer who was one of Kroner's favourites and whose work he collected. In this activity it seems that Kroner as a gallerist also distributed tapestries woven by others like Galerie Cuttoli-Lucie Weil (Arp, Picasso), Paris, or Modern Master Tapestries, New York. This might explain certain descriptions or attributions found in auction catalogues which mention Kroner instead of the original maker.

Ewald Kroner also wove his own designs. In the 1980s he developed a complete collection of small and medium pieces that was both original and of a uniquely high standard in the quality of composition. The image shown above illustrates how he managed to create a real personality to this type of tufted weaving that until now has not really caught the attention of the majority of the public. His work expresses the European abstract search for its forgotten tribal roots. Kroner took as his inspiration Arabic and Native American crafts and fantasy. The compositions are complex and the mixture of all the yarn techniques helped to create vivid, exuberant and radiant 'woolen totems', a real contrast with the technically led design creativity of today.

The success of Kroner is validated by the fact that his tapestries have become part of art collections and can be seen in museums (Moon and Structures in the Kirkland Museum, USA), or were purchased by institutions like the tapestry for the foyer of the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1972, the latter has since been moved to Berlin in 1999.

The information gathered, with difficulty, by The Carpet Index clearly shows the major innovative influence of Ewald Kroner and the role he has played as the 'father' of so many German tapestry weavers. His work during the second half of the twentieth century deserves more promotion and wide scale publication, especially when you consider the prices achieved by some of his tapestries on German Ebay in 2008: several hundred euros for a five square metre piece. In comparison they were sold for 3000 Deutsch Marks per square metre in the 1990s. The road to recognition is complicated, this post was our contribution.

News and Auctions
1)October 27 2009, Christie's London. Special mention for two Zaha Hadid carpets. Clearly one of the leading contemporary designers and architects. The carpets date from 2008. This clearly shows the evolution of the market because one could certainly expect these rugs to be sold in design galleries. In the same sale lots are works by Kybal, Tejo Remy & Rene Veenhuizen and Loja & Eliel Saarinen (attr.).
2)October 27 2009, Sotheby's, London. A carpet by the Belgian Studio de Saedeleer.
3)October 27 2009, Massol, Paris. A Lucien Rollin Aubusson.
4)October 28 2009, Jerom Derem. An exceptionally large carpet 14.7m x 3.96m by Jean Lurcat and Camille Hilaire, woven in the 1960s for the COOP Head Offices. Estimated price 22-24 000 Euros.
5)October 27-30 2009, Bukowskis, Sweden. Marta Maas-Fjetterstrom, Barbro Nilssen, Victor Vasarely, and ryas by Ulla Schumacher-Percy, Kirsti Ilvessalo.
6)October 29 2009, Christie's. Two Maringold rugs after Picasso's paintings.
7)October 29 2009, Kahn-Dumousset, Paris. Eileen Gray (reed.), Leleu, Giacometti.
8)October 30 2009, Cornette de Saint Cyr, Paris. Keith Haring, Maurits Cornelis Escher.

Article written by Jean Manuel de Noronha

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