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Art & Art History

Angelo Testa: Designer/Painter/Weaver

Wednesday, April 13, 1983–Friday, May 06, 1983
Gallery 400
400 South Peoria Street, Chicago, IL 60607

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Angelo Testa

Angelo Testa: Designer/Painter/Weaver was an exhibition surveying over 40 years of work by the American designer, painter, sculptor, and weaver, Angelo Testa. Testa, the first graduate of László Moholy-Nagy’s New Bauhaus in Chicago, sought to elevate everyday mass-produced objects into works of exceptional Modernist beauty using bold and simple geometric elements. In approaching his textiles, Testa employed his training as a painter in order to create works that were vibrant, abstract, and minimal, with powerful lines and playfully interconnected forms. “Little Man” (1942), perhaps Testa’s most famous fabric design, has become part of the Bauhaus archives in Germany. In the Gallery 400 exhibition, examples of Testa’s textile designs, many of which are now housed in the collections of some of the largest textile manufacturers in the country, accompanied his paintings, rugs, fiber weavings, and architectural details. The Art Institute of Chicago holds many of Testa’s works in its permanent collection, and at the time of the exhibition at Gallery 400 (prior to Testa’s death in 1984), it named the designer as one of America’s “Living Treasures.”

According to Testa,

“Whatever success I have enjoyed in my varied areas of work I totally owe to Moholy-Nagy’s inspiration and to the Bauhaus philosophy. The Universal Truths that were revealed to me are as valid and vital today as they were over fifty years ago when they were conceived. Their catholic relationship to man and to his visual world have even a greater importance today than perhaps any other period in the history of man.”

Angelo Testa (born 1918 in Springfield, Massachusetts) was greatly interested in form and line, locating his own work within the milieu of the new minimal approach to architecture of the mid-twentieth century. In 1947 he set up Angelo Testa & Company, producing hand-screen-printed and woven textiles for many architectural studios in Chicago. Heavily influenced by the principles of the Bauhaus, Testa approached his textile work as an abstract artist. He studied painting and sculpture at the Chicago Institute of Design during the 1940s.

A small catalogue accompanied the exhibition.