Wallpaper A language, History & Design

Wallpaper to me is an expression of personalities, revealing a particular state of artist/ designer mind. It is like a double that clings , close as a shadow, solid and yet ambiguous. And this ambiguity I am attracted towards in wallpapers. Two simple elements are combined together to produce an infinite range of variant effects: the pattern and the colour. I intent to make patterns that are interesting enough to evoke  an atmosphere in my interior paintings. The whole things is a balancing act. It success depends on the ability to create motif whose aesthetic is able to survive the process of making the art piece. And also depends on colour.

Wallpaper has been questioned many times, it is a background or a foreground, art or decoration, substitute or a real thing? It may seem like a static subject to some, but its story since its history when it first became widely available till now adorning the walls of today’s designer hotels.

Between 19th century to its fall from trend and fashion in 1980’s wallpaper has found its way into every home and became a backdrop to many memories and nostalgia.

It straddles between two different domains – industry and artistry and opens up and breaks down boundaries, blurring the line between art and design. It is constantly been reinvented. The story of wallpaper began with the story of paper invented in China, embraced by the Arabs, travelling with the trades, looped around  the world, growing to popularity in Europe and then migrating across the oceans to America and beyond.

Rise of designing and housing

During the period between the wars, wallpaper has found its way into interiors and urban expansions also gave its new impetus. It is technology that underpinned the wallpaper invasion. Techniques of flexography, photogravure and screen printing provide the potential for all kinds of designs.

My inspiration and favourite wallpapers for my final project works are the panorama wallpaper which consists of a single image and often tells a story in pictures, rather than a repeated motif. I even saw one panorama wallpaper by French based Zuber manufacturer. Each panel placed side by side are different from others but they creates the illusion of a wall painting.


Since 19th century it is a very fascinating episodes in its history. Panorama are itself a piece of art and are produced only  as one off pieces.

These poetic wallpapers were almost forgotten firstly because of the arrival of mechanization led to the mass production of cheap wallpaper and secondly new housing systems are small to accommodate them.

Art collectors today swap these expensive decorative art get their hand on these at auctions and even today few firms like Gracie Studio in US produce these papers in the grand tradition, entirely by hand.

These can now be seen generally in grand houses and luxury hotels such as Hotel George V in Paris.


New Dimensions

Old masters and artists have always a close relationship with patterns and wallpapers, they get adopted and neglected as a  not so important backdrop of the interiors. For some,  to integrate a repeat patterns feels like a denial of artistic freedom. The  ambiguities status of wallpaper has led the people to regard  this as a modest decorative art in comparison with the   products of the applies arts.

Although artist contributed to the creation of wallpapers designs – Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, Andy Warhol, Le Corbusier. This proves the fact that links of fine art has always been existed. It is a fact that panoramic paper encouraged painters to work for the major manufacturer but they all were shut away in secret by the corporate.

The art deco movement was a movement further demonstrated of the fact that all forms of autistic’s expression are interconnected.

Many artists have been happy to transpose their work onto wallpaper. Artist like Andy Warhol has adopted a very different approach, ignoring all the rules and using wallpaper entirely for their own purposes as a medium on which a project their imagination or make a social, political, cultural statement.

Encounter on Canvas

The painter like Pierre Bonnard , Edouard Vuillard specialized in painting quiet, intimate scenes that glorify everyday life using wallpaper as a background in their interior works. Wallpaper seem to had served as a mean of underlying the simplicity of an interior. Vuillard entitled “ Interior of the home of Maurice Denis with ‘ Portrait of the artist with the yellow Christ by Paul Gaugin depicts both the painting by Gaugin are the wallpaper that hung in the Denis family dining room which can be seen in the backdrop of the picture.

After the bath, Pierre Bonnard

Portrait of the artist with the yellow Christ by Paul Gauguin 

Interior of the home of Maurise Denis by Edouard Vulliard