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Masterworks of Serviette Folding

8 September 2010 - 6 February 2011
Plakat Gefaltete Schönheit

Masterworks of Serviette Folding


8 September, 2010 - 6 February, 2011
Following the success of the exhibition "Folded Beauty" we will extend by two weeks! Thus, it ends on 6 February, 2011!

The history of folding as an art goes back to antiquity, and indeed all cultures developed their own folding traditions that interacted with each other. In Europe, the materials were pergament, paper and fabric.

Simple linen serviettes were already widerspread by Middle Ages, but it was the refinement of table manners in the Renaissance that brought with it the idea of artistically arranging the serviettes on the tables of the nobility. This art reached its pinnacle in the Baroque age in the German-speaking countries. Richly illustrated books were written on the topic and are still today an important source for the research of dining culture. The folded serviette was an expression of prosperity not only at all the Courts of  Western Eurpoe but also on the tables of the upper middle classes.

Artistic table ornamentation made of fabric
A particularly impressive manifestation was to be found in the snakes, fishes, birds and miniature works of architecture such as palaces and bubbling table fountains composed of metres of folded linen which with their deeply symbolic content decorated the dining table. A number of impressive examples will be on display in the exhibition.

At the end of the 18th century, this art gradually fell into oblivion, with only the artistically folded napkin remaining in use to the present, and currently enjoying a renaissance in high-quality restaurants.

Folding - live at the Imperial Furniture Collection
Driven by an unbelievable passion, the Catalonian folding artist Joan Sallas has investigated the origin and development of serviette folding. The Vienna Imperial Furniture Collection and the Silver Collection have invited this internationally renowned expert to design an exhibition on this topic. Inspired by the culture of living and dining at the Viennese Court, Sallas will “break” all the exhibits directly on site, for serviettes are not folded, they are “broken”, at least in German.

The exhibition will present around 40 folded linen “display dishes” (table ornaments) and 150 folded linen napkins from a wide variety of folding traditions. In addition, a number of exhibits will demonstrate the technical and pedagogic relationship between paper folding and folding serviettes. Assistance will be available to visitors who wish to try out the various folding techniques themselves, and who can also train as folding experts in workshops for children and adults.

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