With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985

Exhibition Website

Oct 27 2019 - May 11 2020

With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985 is the first full-scale scholarly survey of this groundbreaking American art movement, encompassing works in painting, sculpture, collage, ceramics, installation art, and performance documentation. 

Covering the years 1972 to 1985 and featuring approximately fifty artists from across the United States, the exhibition examines the Pattern and Decoration movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art. 

Pattern and Decoration artists gleaned motifs, color schemes, and materials from the decorative arts, freely appropriating floral, arabesque, and patchwork patterns and arranging them in intricate, almost dizzying, and sometimes purposefully gaudy designs. Their work across mediums pointedly evokes a pluralistic array of sources from Islamic architectural ornamentation to American quilts, wallpaper, Persian carpets, and domestic embroidery. 

Pattern and Decoration artists practiced a postmodernist art of appropriation borne of love for its sources rather than the cynical detachment that became de rigueur in the international art world of the 1980s. This exhibition traces the movement’s broad reach in postwar American art by including artists widely regarded as comprising the core of the movement, artists whose contributions to Pattern and Decoration have been under-recognized, and artists who are not normally considered in the context of Pattern and Decoration. 

Though little studied today, the Pattern and Decoration movement was institutionally-recognized, critically received, and commercially successful from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. The overwhelming preponderance of craft-based practices and unabashedly decorative sensibilities in art of the present-day point to an influential P&D legacy that is ripe for consideration.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

Image: Miriam Schapiro, Heartland, 1985, acrylic and fabric on canvas, 85 x 94 in. (215.9 x 238.76 cm). Orlando Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Women for Special Acquisition and Council of 101, © 2019 Estate of Miriam Schapiro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Zach Stovall.​


Whether or not you go, the exhibitin catalog,  With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985, is a timely and expansive survey of a ground-breaking American art movement that overturned aesthetic hierarchies in a riot of color and ornamentation. The Pattern and Decoration movement emerged in the 1970s as an embrace of long-dismissed art forms associated with the decorative. Pioneering artists such as Miriam Schapiro (1923–2015) and Joyce Kozloff (b. 1942), and others appropriated patterns, frequently from non-Western decorative arts, to produce intricate, often dizzying or gaudy designs in media ranging from painting, sculpture, and collage to ceramics, installation art, and performance. This dazzling book showcases an astonishing array of works by more than 40 artists from across the United States, examining the movement’s defiant adoption of art forms traditionally viewed as feminine, craft-based, or otherwise inferior to fine art. Essays explore the movement’s feminist methods and values, including Miriam Schapiro’s “femmage” practice; its impact on contemporary abstract painting; and its relationship to postmodern architecture and design. Artist biographies, an exhibition history, and reprints of historically significant writings.

Select With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985 to learn more, or to place this book in your Amazon shopping cart. Your Amazon purchase through this link generates a small commission that will help to fund the ArtGeek.art search engine.

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