Interesting Artwork Containing Clothing and Textiles

Textiles, in and of themselves, are often beautiful works of art. The textures and saturation of colours are prized by artists, and the historical significance of clothing styles play a valuable part in the recording of mankind’s civilizations. Not only is the clothing represented through well-known paintings, in many cases, actual bits of material are incorporated into the paintings, sculptures, and pottery.

Collage Art


The first type of artwork that many people think of when you mention textile art, or clothing used in art, is the collage. Collage art is usually a piece that is associated with a particular theme, and contains vignettes relating to the particular topic represented in snapshots, drawings, small mementos, and even bits of fabric. In folk art, the artist may use bits of clothing from childhood outfits, kitchen towels, and aprons in a collage about childhood on a farm, for example. The significance of textiles used in these pieces of art rests in the tactile properties of fabrics, which often arouses a certain memory or feeling.

3-D Art

Another way in which fabric is brought into play with artistic expression is in 3-D art. Rather than a flat painting, the artist may integrate, collage style, actual fabrics used during the era being depicted. This brings a 3-D feature to a normally 2-D rendering but I wouldn’t say it’s just grabbing clothes off your clothes airer.

Living Paintings

One of the popular expressions of art these days is with living paintings. These are reproductions of famous paintings done with actors and models. The players in this painting are painted and dressed in clothing that matches that portrayed in the painting. However, the actors are only dressed and painted on one side of their bodies, wearing body suits to cover the entire body. In these cases, the fabrics used must be capable of portraying the same colors and sheen that were depicted in the original paintings.

String Art

Most people, during their childhood, experimented with string art, in which they wound lengths of colored string from nail to nail on an illustration until a completed picture was created. However, string art is far more sophisticated and expressive than that. Different textures, colors, thicknesses and placements of threads and strings on otherwise 2-D artistic pieces bring a sense of movement to the drawing, photograph, or painting. Often, the artist will embroider the center of attention on the artwork, drawing the remaining lengths of string off to one side as if awaiting further use. The effect is to bring motion to the artistic piece, as well as directing the eye of the viewer. Other artists may use the threads to represent the appearance of dripping paint, or to emulate elements of nature, such as rays of sunshine or reflection off of water.

Embroidery and Quilting

Besides the Victorian stitching, needlework, and tatting that hearken back to the 1800s, and quilting that is often considered a folk art, there are some fascinating artistic pieces using these same techniques.

Modern quilters and needlework artists create stand-alone works of art that bring thousands from art collectors.


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