Gail Rothschild

The Arcade Project

2016 – 2017


The Arcade Project is a group of paintings inspired by “Figures in Niches or Arcades,” a single much-decayed fragment of Coptic wool tapestry from the Brooklyn Museum Collection.
The series is an offshoot of Rothschild’s larger project Portraits of Ancient Linen. Named for Walter Benjamin’s study of 19th c Parisian architecture and urbanity, they reference a Late Antique period in the throws of radical intermingling of Hellenic and Persian, Christian and Pagan culture and imagery. These paintings blow up our notions of women’s work and craft by re-presenting small domestic figures at heroic scale. Matisse, Romare Bearden and Milton Avery were also inspired by the subtle abstraction of Coptic textiles and those modern masters in turn influence The Arcade Project. Avidly collected and exhibited in the late 19th and early 20th century, Late Antique textiles are slowly re-emerging from a generation of neglect.
Their coded narratives of cultural intermingling serve as antidote to xenophobia and are both timely and instructive.

Figure in Arcade V, 2017
Acrylic on canvas
67 x 51 1/2 in.

Figure in Arcade III, 2017
Acrylic on canvas
67 x 51 1/2 in.

Figure in Arcade I, 2017
Acrylic on canvas
67 x 51 1/2 in.

Figure in Arcade IV, 2017
Acrylic on canvas
67 x 51 1/2 in.

Figure in Arcade II, 2017
Acrylic on canvas
67 x 51 1/2 in.