Invented in the 16th Century as an inexpensive method of interior decoration, wallpaper today is having a moment in both design and artistic spheres. Whether as expressions of contemporary place, interactive experience, political commentary or social engagement, artists and designers are using the history of an old medium in new ways.
In Why Wallpaper, Villa Terrace investigates with several leading artists and designers the ways in which wallpaper has been central to their practice and explores the theoretical, technical, and artistic innovations they have achieved.
Villa Terrace, located in a David Adler-designed Renaissance revival house over Lake Michigan, is the ideal Milwaukee arts institution to investigate this question facing both art and design in the first quarter of the 21st century. Famous for his eclectic style, Adler frequently incorporated scenic panoramas of French wallpaper into his homes. Produced by Zuber, a company extant since 1797, the Décor Chinois paper on the second floor of Villa Terrace overlooking the museum’s Renaissance Garden, was first installed in the 1920s and then recommissioned and reinstalled in 2002 following an electrical fire at the museum. The exhibition will explore not only the role of wallpaper in leading artists’ and designers’ practice, but also issues of restoration and preservation in the context of a contemporary museum located in a historic residence.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website