Cultured Magazine

Spring 2014

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84 CULTURED Henzel Studio Collaborations' debut line of contemporary art rugs are worthy of wall space. BY CAROL HUSTON PORTRAIT BY DANIEL TRESE ast summer at a Sotheby's New York auction, a Persian carpet sold for $33.8 million, breaking world records for textiles at auction. The latest sky- rocketing market value of rugs has set aflutter both the fine art and interior design sectors, as a new breed of textile collector emerges—namely one in favor of hanging rugs as works of art, rather than placing them on the floor. Taking the notion of how a two-dimensional artwork might translate into a textile, Swedish multimedia artist and Henzel Studio creative direc- tor Calle Henzel and curator Joakim Andreasson recently began working together to develop new, artisanal rugs in collaboration with some of the top names in visual art and photography. Launching at Barneys in New York this May during the Frieze Art Fair, the first iteration of Henzel Studio Collaborations merges the activity of a dozen living artists, many with a strong fashion heritage. The 33-year-old Andreasson, based in Los Angeles, explains that he is most interested in collaborating with artists who share a solid history of creating new work on their own terms. Ranging from Richard Prince, Juergen Teller, Helmut Lang to Robert Knoke and Marilyn Minter, each artist involved in the debut series exemplifies an uncompromising attitude in their own niche, often tipping into the progressive. Andreasson says, "The curatorial exercise was to define and secure a group of artists who, combined, offer an eclectic, aesthetically broad and culturally relevant encapsulated experience with an authentic voice." In this way, Henzel and Andreasson's intentions of defining new channels for visual art to be com- municated and made available commercially become clear. Although Henzel Studio Collaborations marks the first time Andreasson has worked in the field of interior design, he notes that Henzel's creative methodology and autonomous business model greatly appealed to him from the beginning. Based in Gothenburg and operating as a studio since 1999, Henzel's own practice blurs the boundaries between art and design, easily lending to the organic progression of working with an array of cross-disciplinary artists. "Art rugs have been around for quite some time in various forms, and some of the most prominent artists—Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Robert Indiana, Mike Kelley, Ellsworth Kelly, Fernand Léger, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol—have all turned to the media at hand at some point in their oeuvre," explains Andreasson. "However, having 12 artists contribute and collaborate makes this an unprecedented initiative." The artists work with Henzel in the development of the rug patterns, material selection, pile height variations and dyes used on each carpet, the designs of which are based on either past or new and exclusive works across the mediums of painting, collage, drawing and photography. Each rug is made-to-order and hand-knotted in Nepal using an ancient, free-form weaving technique. When reproducing the artists' work through this medium, the weavers require about one day to create just three square centimeters, as an incredibly delicate, slow process that prides itself on craftsmanship. "The artisanal production, environmental sustainability and social respon- sibility are key factors that determine the high-quality standards of the Henzel Studio brand," says Andreasson. "We only use the purest, most ecological fibers in the world, working solely with biodegradable and renewable resources. It should also be noted that we're certified by GoodWeave, which controls and pro- motes responsible labor practices and provides critical services to our workers." A second volume of Henzel Studio Collaborations is slated to be released in 2015, with a new set of artists working at an equal caliber. As Henzel Studio Collaborations grows, Andreasson looks brightly toward the new avenues this approach to design will take. "There are a lot of blurs that arise as a result, mainly questions relating to the confines of art and commerce," he says. "It's a dialogue we're happy to shed new light on." COMMON THREADS L Curator Joakim Andreasson developed a collection of artist rugs with Sweden- based Henzel Studio.

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