Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

textile fragment
  • Tunisia
  • textile fragment, 1800s
  • Where object was made: Tunisia
  • embroidering, fiber, silver thread
  • Object Height/Width: 4 1/2 x 8 in
  • On loan from Dr. Jessica Gerschultz
  • On view: Marshall Balcony, 404, S2
  • EL2017.118
  • Loan: Not in the Spencer's collection
Label Text
Exhibitions

Exhibition Label:
"Race, Gender, and the "Decorative" in 20th-Century African Art: Reimagining Boundaries", 11-Nov-2017
“I am not a painter, an artist, but an artisan, a decorator. In my mind, a painting is not made of the tombs that are museums, but to decorate a house, brighten up an interior…I…create an environment, a framework, a decor.”
Ali Bellagha, La Presse, May 8, 1970
Ali Bellagha, a member of the artist group École de Tunis (Tunis School), desired to unify “modern” and “artisanal” art (artisanat d’art) as part of a broad project linking art with social uplift. In 1960, Bellagha opened an art gallery in Tunis called Les Métiers (Trades) to showcase objects redesigned from historical models and symbols of cultural patrimony. The delicate silver wire and bead pins and sculpture are a play on the machmoum, a bouquet of jasmine buds worn or carried by Tunisians for their wonderful fragrance. On the wall to the right, the seated musician in the painting Orchestre sous-marine by Jellal Ben Abdallah wears a machmoum tucked behind her ear. Bellagha studied and collected historical Tunisian arts, including the woman-made embroidery on display here that features a bride with palms raised. In the postcard on the adjacent wall, Safia Farhat depicted this same bridal motif in Wedding in Monastir.