Pattern and Decoration: A Trend on the Horizon

Art Privee
Jan 23, 2015 3:05PM

Pattern and decorative art seem to be quietly seeping into the art world. 

The Museum of Modern Art’s widely successful show of Matisse’s “The Cut Outs” is drawing hundreds of people, even on the coldest days in New York City. This colorful exhibition embraces the work Matisse did when he was bedridden and he continued to create gorgeous works, which he pinned to the walls of his homes. 

In Miami, Beatrice Melhazes at the Perez Museum was featured in a vibrant retrospective that has drawn many admirers. Her exciting pattern work and brilliant colors are a tonic for the winter blues.

Commercial galleries have also taken up the mantle. In November, the Skarstedt Gallery on the Upper East Side had an exciting show of Albert Oehlen’s “Fabric Paintings” which in fact was oil painted on beautifully patterned fabric.

Even Mary Boone got into the act. Francesco Clemente’s colorful and patterned tents in her Chelsea Gallery were a big surprise. 

The “pretty” patterns on canvas of Texas-based artist Mark Flood highlighted at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami also reflect the resurgence of pattern and decoration in contemporary art. 

Historically, in the mid 1970's there was an interest in decorative motives and materials. These decorative elements such as, fabrics, wallpapers and glitter, were the medium for new works. Some critics felt that it was a response to Minimalism that was pervasive at the time. With Minimalism, you could no longer see the hand of the artist in works of art. Pattern and decoration looked fresh, shocking and homemade. Some critics were hostile to these works because they were deemed “decorative” and “pretty.” Pieces were made by sewing, weaving, gluing and embroidery which were often characterized as “women’s crafts” and not important, serious or meaningful.

Artists such as Miriam SchapiroKim MacConnel and Robert Kushner were pioneers in this field and embraced ornament, fashion and fabric.Keep an eye out for these names because I think you may see a renaissance of their works or younger artists embracing their materials and techniques.

View more private museums and read about many other fabulous art experiences at

Art Privee