Famous Textile Artists

Famous Textile Artists – The Art of Creating With Fabric

From iconic fabric collage artists to textile creatives who produce large-scale woven installations, there are hundreds of innovative creatives across the globe who have truly shone a light on how one can elevate textile art. In this article, we will introduce you to the top 12 most famous modern and contemporary textile artists in art history, whose works not only continue to inspire newer generations of artists but also provide interesting insights into how one can build compelling concepts around fabrics. Keep reading to uncover more fascinating details about these 12 luminaries of fabric art!



The Intricacies of Woven Art

Numerous imaginative artists, sculptors, and designers across the globe specialize in all things textile, tactile, and woven. There is always something so fascinating about visualizing the imaginary threads and connections of life that seem almost impossible to put your finger on. With textile art, which is also known as fiber or woven art, many modern and contemporary artists have been able to bring to life the dynamic and immersive qualities of materials like wool, cotton, and found objects. But what makes textile art so fascinating?

Famous Weaving Artist The Soul Trembles exhibition QGOMA (2022) by Chiharu Shiota; Kgbo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One amazing quality about textile art is its versatility, as a medium that can not only be found across a vast range of fields and everyday items, but as a reflection of human society and our need to connect, and understand the “fabric” of our nature, and how we are connected. There are also multiple ways to use textile art, whether it is through design, fashion, art, utility, or décor, fabric and the processes of producing materials that hold, conceal, reveal, and connect are incredibly important to understanding our inner worlds.

Below, you will discover some of the most famous modern and contemporary fiber artists whose passion for textile art and its tactile nature have left behind some of the most engaging artworks in sculpture, installation, and performance. 



12 Famous Textile Artists You Need to Know

Whether one weaves, knits, glues, ties, or seals fabrics, the processes within textile art are all unique to each artist’s practice. Below, you will discover the 12 most famous textile artists whose legacies and current approaches remain valuable to the history of textile art.

Explore Famous Textile Artists Portrait of Lucienne Peiry (2017) by Philippe Couette; Philippe Couette, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Anni Albers (1899 – 1994)

Name Anni Albers
Date of Birth 12 June 1899
Date of Death 9 May 1994
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesTextile art, Abstract art, Modern art, design, education, weaving, wall hangings, and graphic design
Famous Artworks
  • Open Letter (1958)
  • Pasture (1958)
  • Six Prayers (1965)

Renowned 20th-century abstract artist Anni Albers was one of the most famous textile artists, whose influence as a designer, painter, and educator had a broad reach. Albers was known to have been resilient since she was once discouraged by the artist Oskar Kokoshka from pursuing art, however, Albers fiercely chose her own path and followed her own advice. At the time, most academic spaces were not entirely welcoming towards women, and as a result, Albers was once prevented from attending a workshop alongside her husband Josef Albers. Her career as a textile artist did not emerge overnight. Albers originally thought of textile art as an overly feminine art form, however, she embraced it to expose its power and championed the medium as her primary form of expression. Her art was realized alongside the unique integration of synthetic and natural media such as plastic and metals constructed into tapestries of various sizes and symmetrical forms.

Anni Albers remains an influential and iconic textile artist whose legacy and experiences continue to inspire young artists who share a similar passion for fabric art, weaving, and all threads in between.

Weaving Artist Tissue (1948) by Anni Albers; J R, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Louise Bourgeois (1911 – 2010)

Name Louise Joséphine Bourgeois
Date of Birth 25 December 1911
Date of Death 31 May 2010
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesTextile art, Feminism, Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism, large-scale sculpture, and Contemporary art
Famous Artworks
  • Untitled (2006)
  • Untitled (2007)
  • Untitled (2008)
  • Conscious and Unconscious (2008)

Famous French artist Louise Bourgeois was among the most renowned textile artists of the 20th century, whose career not only inspired countless women in art but also broadened the field of sculpture. Bourgeois was widely recognized for her work in Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, however, her work was never categorized as belonging to either of the two influential art movements. The uniqueness of her sculptures was characterized by her ability to marry mixed media such as silicone and rubber into textile artworks relying on thread and wool, shaped largely by her memories of her childhood. The artist always expressed her close relationship with textiles and different kinds of fabrics that offered her an emotional outlet and space for healing. Throughout her life, Bourgeois collected various scraps of material and transformed them into autobiographical pieces of art that shifted from materials to drawings to sculptures and books.

Her soft sculptures conveyed the organic process of her work and usually addressed themes related to reproduction, the body, and sexuality.


Itchiku Kubota (1917 – 2003)

Name Itchiku Kubota
Date of Birth 7 October 1917
Date of Death 26 April 2003
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesTextile art, tsujigahana, Modern art, Japanese culture, seasons, nature, the cosmos, and kimono art
Famous Artworks
  • Kikkoumatsukawa (1978)
  • San/Burning Sun (1980)
  • Kasanenmitshirin (2000)

Itchiku Kubota was perhaps one of the most unique textile artists of the modern era, who beautifully fused the 16th-century art form called tsujigahana (tie-dying) with modern textile art. Kubota’s practice was largely inspired by his visit to the Tokyo National Museum after he witnessed the stunning visuals of the technique. He then created his own version of tsujigahana, shaped by Shibori stitching and tying methods in addition to a mixture of dyes to produce fascinating new shades and forms. His most beautiful works, which also appear similar to paintings, were his 36-kimono series titled The Symphony of Light, which represents a cycle of the four seasons through textured and vibrant landscapes. A selection of Kubota’s works were also used in kabuki and noh theater plays, as well as exhibitions and concerts across the globe. The famous Japanese fabric artist was known to incorporate lighter silks in his early career and transitioned to a silk chirimen that was laced with silver or gold weft threads for additional depth in his compositions.

Today, the fragile and historically significant works have been recognized as gems of Japan’s cultural history and are exhibited throughout the year at the artist’s studio and Itchiku Kubota Museum.

Explore Weaving Artists Itchiku Kubota Art Museum (2021); МПотапов, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Peter Collingwood (1922 – 2008)

Name Peter Collingwood
Date of Birth 2 March 1922
Date of Death 9 October 2008
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesTextile art, textile design, Modern art, and Contemporary art
Famous Artworks
  • Macrogauze (1964)
  • 3-D Macrogauze (c. 1970s)
  • Unique Two-Dimensional Macrogauze (c. 1970)
  • Red, Orange, and Black Macrogauze (c. 1970)

Famous British textile artist Peter Collingwood was a prolific textile designer and artist whose signature technique can be seen in his wall-hanging series of Macro Gauze sculptures. Incorporating geometry and his own technique known as shaft switching, Collingwood went on to produce crossed and twisted formations that also made use of materials like brass and steel, which was uncommon for textile art. His mathematically inclined sculptures were also inspired by his experiences serving as a medical doctor in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

In 1952, Collingwood transitioned into textile art through speed-weaving, which cemented his legacy as one of the best British textile artists of the 20th century.


Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017)

Name Magdalena Abakanowicz
Date of Birth 20 June 1930
Date of Death 20 April 2017
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesTextile art, outdoor installation, found materials, woven art, abstract art, fiber art, Modern art, and Contemporary art
Famous Artworks
  • The Composition (1960)
  • White (The Sun and the Moon) (1964)
  • White (1966)
  • Brown Abakan IV (1969)

Born in 1930, Magdalena Abakanowicz was among the world’s most famous fiber artists, she was best known for her innovative processes and Abakan artworks. She incorporated various textures and fabrics into her sculptures, from sisal ropes to cotton gauze and burlap. Abakanowicz’s adoption of found materials also contributed to the uniqueness and complexity of her sculpture and woven wall hangings showcased her imaginative prowess. Abakanowicz started her practice in freestanding textile sculpture around the 1970s and has since established herself as a trailblazer in the field. Through sculpture and installation, the Polish artist threw herself into abstraction despite the trend of Social Realism, which was pushed by the Polish government in the 50s.

Her works also took on different forms that evoke aspects of the female body, as well as themes of the human experience, fragility, and strength.

Female Weaving Artist M. Abakanowicz in her art room (2010); Kontrola, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Faith Ringgold (1930 – Present)

Name Faith Ringgold
Date of Birth 8 October 1930
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesNarrative quills, mixed media art, textile art, fabric art, oral traditions, storytelling, and Contemporary art
Famous Artworks
  • Slave Rape Story Quilt (1985)
  • Tar Beach (Part I from the Woman on a Bridge series) (1988)
  • Tar Beach #2 (1990)

Another luminary of the modern art era is Faith Ringgold, whose textile artworks emerged from her engagement with storytelling and marginalized histories. Ringgold is recognized for her unique story quilts that use fabric to weave in elements of painting and storytelling that make the work even more visually interesting. The famous fabric artist was inspired by Buddhist paintings called Tibetan thangkas, which she witnessed at the Rijksmuseum around 1972. Through fabric quilts, painted imagery, collage, and text, which has since become the artist’s go-to signature. Among the main themes discussed in Ringgold’s work include Harlem history, representation, and the underrepresentation of African American history.

One can spot one of her works at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.


Sheila Hicks (1934 – Present)

Name Sheila Hicks
Date of Birth 24 July 1934
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesFiber art, textile art, weavings, personal narrative, and Contemporary art
Famous Artworks
  • Untitled (c. 1970)
  • Sculpture Bas Relief (2016)
  • Hooking Up Traces (2022)
  • Ondine (2022 – 2023)

Sheila Hicks is among the most famous contemporary fabric artists of the current era, who is best known for her monumental hanging textile sculptures. Hicks’ fabric sculptures emphasize her unique approach to color and soft sculpture that pays homage to the role of women in shaping the history of textile art throughout the 20th century. Hicks graduated from Yale University, where she was taught by Josef Albers. Her career as a fabric artist began in the late 50s when she gained inspiration from the processes and weaving artists of India, Chile, and Morocco. Hicks’ sculptures also pushed the boundaries of three-dimensional forms that not only intrigue her audience but also invite one to engage with the work and immerse oneself in them. The famous textile artist is also affiliated with Albers’ wife Anni Albers, who encouraged her to integrate the color theories proposed by Josef in her approach to structure.

Today, Hicks’ sculptures can be found in many prestigious art institutions, including the National Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Most Famous Weaving Artist Chaumont sur Loire (2018) by Sheila Hicks; stephane333, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Judith Scott (1943 – 2005)

Name Judith Scott
Date of Birth 1 May 1943
Date of Death 15 March 2005
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesTextile art, fiber art, mixed media art, Contemporary art, and forever-softened objects
Famous Artworks
  • Untitled (1993)
  • Untitled (2003 – 2004)
  • Untitled (2004)

Judith Scott was one of the most inspirational textile artists of all time, whose works were appreciated for their abstract yet intricate bundled forms, usually wrapped around found objects. Born in 1943, Scott was diagnosed with Down syndrome and a hearing disability, however, this did not stop her from exploring her creativity through weaving and sculpture.

The American artist’s works have been exhibited in numerous art fairs, galleries, and museums, including the 2017 Venice Biennale and the Brooklyn Museum.


El Anatsui (1944 – Present)

Name El Anatsui
Date of Birth 4 February 1944
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesMetal tapestries and textile art
Famous Artworks
  • Breaking News (2015)
  • Untitled (2023)
  • Earth struggling to grow roots and leaves (2023)

Globally renowned Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui is among the best weaving artists of the contemporary period. Anatsui’s sculptures evoke the textile nature of fabric and soft sculpture yet are created using materials that are often found in manufacturing and industrial processes. From bottle caps to recycled goods and wood, Anatsui’s weavings are visually profound in their ability to mimic the textures of textiles.

Themes of human consumption, African kente traditions, and the African slave trade are deeply rooted in his practice, making his works important vessels for exploring identity, cultural histories, and human relationships with technology and consumption.

Most Famous Textile Artists Man’s Cloth (2001) by El Anatsui; El Anatsui, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Nick Cave (1959 – Present)

Name Nick Cave
Date of Birth 4 February 1959
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesTextile art, Contemporary art, assemblage fabric sculptures, found objects, tapestries, fiber art, fashion, and Soundsuits
Famous Artworks
  • King of the Hill (2014)
  • Again and Again (2018)
  • Soundsuit (2022)

Famously known for the Soundsuit series, the iconic American artist Nick Cave is among the most celebrated contemporary mixed media textile artists of the last decade. Cave is also a dancer, who combines the fields of performance and sculpture to provide surreal and empowering costumes fashioned from materials like wire, sequins, beads, and twigs among other materials. Cave’s works are also politically charged since the artist was first motivated by the 1992 police brutality case on Rodney King. Cave identified as an artist who felt the duty of civic responsibility to speak out against the issues of gun violence and racial inequality, which strongly impact most African American people in the United States.

Cave graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and Cranbrook Academy of Art, and thereafter served as the director of a fashion course at the School of the Art Institute Chicago.


Chiharu Shiota (1972 – Present)

Name Chiharu Shiota
Date of Birth 20 May 1972
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesTextile art, space, personal narrative, the body, memory, alienation, territory, and Contemporary art
Famous Artworks
  • Accumulation: Searching for Destination (2014 – 2016)
  • Memory Under the Skin (2023)
  • State of Being (2023)

Exploring the fields of installation and performance, renowned textile artist Chiharu Shiota is best known for her immersive and striking textile sculptures and installations that evoke the nature of human connections through red and black threads. Similar to spider-woven webs and structures, Shiota’s installations emerge from and with different objects, from boats and furniture to dresses, doors, and abstracted forms.

Shiota’s practice is embedded with poetic and deep symbolism that touches on themes of femininity, the past, emotions, memory, and intimacy.

Famous Textile Artists One Thousand Springs at Kew Gardens in Temperate House, Japan Exhibition (2021) Chiharu Shiota; AndyScott, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Billie Zangewa (1973 – Present)

Name Billie Zangewa
Date of Birth 1973
NationalityMalawian-South African
Associated Movements, Themes, and StylesTextile art, tapestries, silk art, personal narrative, racial prejudice, domestic life, Black identity, gender performance, and Contemporary art
Famous Artworks
  • The Rebirth of the Black Venus (2010)
  • Back to Black (2015)
  • Vision of Love (2018)

Another incredible weaving artist is Billie Zangewa, whose contemporary tapestries of daily life, the Black experience, and personal narratives possess similar qualities to those of paintings and ancient tapestries. Zangewa uses appliqued silk to draw attention to the mundane aspects of life that convey the complex micro-textures of such scenes that are usually under-appreciated yet hold immense beauty. Her meticulous approach is also one that showcases the tender handling of her subject matter and ability to express her femininity through silk and woven collages that depict themes such as domestic labor, gender performance, and racial prejudice among other interesting topics. Zangewa was born in Malawi and is currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since her graduation in 1995 from Rhodes University, Zangewa has exhibited widely across various local art galleries and international museums such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

Discover Weaving Artist Billie Zangewa at her Exhibition at the Afro Nova of Johannesburg (2017); HenriDavel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


These 12 innovative textile artists all offer valuable insights into the different ways that one can transform materials like fiber into visually stunning pieces of art. We encourage you to keep exploring the works of contemporary textile artists who could perhaps inspire you to discover the possibilities of woven art. 




Frequently Asked Questions


Who Is the Most Famous British Textile Sculptor?

Peter Collingwood was considered to be the most famous British textile sculptor of all time. He was best known for his Macro Gauze sculptures and was also the first living textile artist to exhibit works at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the 1960s.


What Is the Difference Between a Textile Designer and a Textile Artist?

The main difference between a textile designer and a textile artist is that the textile designer’s role is to produce and design fabric patterns for printed materials. These can range from interior furniture design to clothing design. The textile artist, on the other hand, makes use of textile design techniques and processes to offer innovative approaches to realizing fiber-based artworks. While both creatives serve to produce creative and decorative works, contemporary textile artists are known to create works that challenge traditional teachings about what textile art looks like.


Who Are the Three Most Famous Contemporary Textile Artists?

The three most famous contemporary textile artists are identified as Sheila Hicks (1934 – Present), El Anatsui (1944 – Present), and Billie Zangewa (1973 – Present), who are all widely recognized for their unique processes in woven art, textile collages, and sculptures that mimic the texture of fabrics.


Cite this Article

Jordan, Anthony, “Famous Textile Artists – The Art of Creating With Fabric.” Art in Context. February 4, 2024. URL: https://artincontext.org/famous-textile-artists/

Anthony, J. (2024, 4 February). Famous Textile Artists – The Art of Creating With Fabric. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/famous-textile-artists/

Anthony, Jordan. “Famous Textile Artists – The Art of Creating With Fabric.” Art in Context, February 4, 2024. https://artincontext.org/famous-textile-artists/.

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