The article below was published in Pinnable’s newsletter in . The exhibition Au fil du siècle, 1918–2018 ended on 4 November.

Au fil du siècle

The Gobelins Tapestry Manufactory

Ten years ago I had never heard of Gobelins, and when a guide pointed one out to me for the first time (‘And here we have our Gobelin’) I was actually looking for a goblin on the huge tapestry in front of me, not knowing that it was the tapestry itself I had to look at. Since that day, I’ve seen a few more Gobelins, all from the 17th and 18th centuries, and generally they were of a stunning beauty. When I was putting Copenhagen on Pinnable, I noticed that there are seventeen modern Gobelins depicting Denmark’s history in Christiansborg Palace. I was surprised to learn that the Manufacture des Gobelins in Paris, established in 1662 by King Louis XIV to supply furnishings for his palaces, still exists today, and that the manufactory is in fact very much alive & kicking. And it’s possible to visit the workshops, by reservation only, as part of a 1½-hour guided tour, exclusively in French.

Raoul Dufy: The Bay of Sainte-Adresse
The tapestry La Baie de Sainte-Adresse by Raoul Dufy

Until 4 November, the Galerie des Gobelins presents Au fil du siècle, 1918–2018, an overview of French tapestry masterpieces from the last hundred years. The exhibition shows how after World War I the manufactories initially continued to produce tapestries displaying traditional themes such as battle scenes (albeit now with contemporary weaponry) and La France éternelle, portraying a peaceful country far from the desolation of the battlefields. During the interwar period tapestry weaving moved away from imitating painting by simplifying shapes and reducing the number of colours, and the subject changed to exoticism, reflecting the new interest in distant countries, especially the colonies. After World War II, artists such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró gradually altered the designs from entirely figurative to increasingly abstract. The final part of the exhibition shows how after the ugly 80s, tapestry weaving entered a new era of experimentation. A number of contemporary works such as a tapestry by Carole Benzaken depicting a football match and the Gobelins’ most recent product, Une carte du Japon by Alain Séchas, demonstrate that the manufactories’ craftsmanship and tradition of creating great works of art are not from a bygone age.