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Tappan - Wool Tapestry Panel by Marta Maas-Fjetterstrom

Designed in 1931; woven before 1941

The distinctive modernist style of Märta MååsFjetterström (1873–1941), a prominent early-twentieth-century Swedish textile artist, spanned centuries and geography. After graduating from what is now the College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Måås-Fjetterström oversaw textile production at various handcraft associations devoted to recreating traditional Swedish folk art tapestries, which clearly informed her artistic output. As a result of exposure to non-Western decorative arts, her design vocabulary also incorporated many features of Asian derivation. In 1919, Måås-Fjetterström opened her own atelier in Båstad—there, she freed herself from the conservative textile workshops which disapproved of her aesthetic choices. Måås-Fjetterström’s signature blend of Scandinavian and Eastern sensibilities would come to define her most dynamic works.

Täppan represents this particular confluence of regional and exotic tastes. Tapestry weaving had thrived in Sweden since the sixteenth century, when Flemish weavers were brought in to create hangings for the royal palace. These large-scale floral tapestries were subsequently interpreted by peasant weavers; in transition from professional workshops to home craft, naïve charm and simplification replaced stately magnificence. Måås-Fjetterström was greatly influenced by such weavings, yet at the same time she sought inspiration from other cultures. The Asian and Near Eastern textiles on view at the 1897 Stockholm World Fair made an indelible impression on the young artist, as did the diverse collections of European museums she visited. Depicting a small flower bed after which it is named, Täppan is woven from soft wool yarns in a subtle palette of variegated, muted hues. Interlocked tapestry technique allows for precise rendering of the angular buds, stalks and chevronpatterned grass and soil patch. The dense arrangement of isolated floral motifs references antique Flemish millefleurs tapestries and humbler Swedish interpretations, but also the stylized flowers— tulips, irises, lilies, and carnations, all seen here—characteristic of many Persian and Indian carpets.

The Stockholm Exhibition of 1930 was a pivotal moment for Måås-Fjetterström, as her artistic inclinations aligned with the emerging Functionalist Art Deco movement. From this time onwards, Måås-Fjetterström’s designs were increasingly strong yet simple, fusing traditional, oriental and modernist influences into a unified, highly personal style. In 1934, Swedish art critic Erik Wettergren said of Måås-Fjetterström: “This industrious weaver is a remarkable storyteller, who finds her inspiration in legends and meadows, in the Orient and the North, in ancient beliefs and fresh green leaves….” He, along with members of Swedish royalty, was responsible for reinstating Måås-Fjetterström’s workshop after her death. Her studio is still active; weavings made during Måås-Fjetterström’s lifetime are distinguished from later weavings by the simple signature “MMF.”

26” H x 50.5” W

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