Hidden Tapestry reveals the unforgettable story of Flemish American artist Jan Yoors—childhood vagabond, wartime Resistance fighter, and polyamorous New York bohemian. At the peak of his fame in the 1970s, Yoors’s photographs and vast tapestries inspired a dedicated following in his adopted Manhattan. Though his intimate friends guessed the rough outline of his colorful life, Hidden Tapestry is first to detail his astonishing secrets.
At twelve, Jan’s life took an extraordinary and unexpected turn when, lured by stories of Gypsies, he wandered off with a group of Roma and continued to live on-and-off with them and with his own family for several years. As an adult in German-occupied France, Yoors joined the Resistance and persuaded his adoptive Roma family to fight alongside him. Defying repeated arrests and torture by the Gestapo, he worked first as a saboteur and later escorted Allied soldiers trapped behind German lines across the Pyrenees to freedom.
After the war, he married childhood friend Annabert van Wettum and embarked on his career as an artist. When a friend of Annabert’s, Marianne Citroen, modeled for Yoors, the two began an affair, which led the three to form a polyamorous unit that would last for the rest of their lives. Moving to New York, the trio became part of the bohemian life of Greenwich Village in the 1950s.
Told in arresting detail by Debra Dean, best-selling author of The Madonnas of Leningrad, Yoors’s story is a luminous and inspiring account of resilience, resourcefulness, and love.
"Her riveting descriptions breathe life into events that many of us are familiar with. Like an artful documentarian, Dean whisks us from the panorama of wartime to close-ups of our main characters, each trying to survive. Because of Dean’s ability to balance the narrative, I found myself caught up in each of their lives, wondering how the three would come together." —Washington Independent Review of Books
"In Hidden Tapestry, Debra Dean dives into the artist’s singular backstory and the equally compelling stories of his wives, Annabert van Wettum and Marianne Citroen. This is a well-researched, well-written, and unusual biography... There's a fascinating story here, and Dean tells it well."—Foreword Reviews
"There is much of interest in this book for contemporary tapestry weavers. Bottom line: read this book. I loved it and I will definitely be spending more time learning about Jan Yoors with special interest in his wives and weavers, Marianne and Annabert." —Rebecca Mezoff, Rebeccamezoff.com
“It is a worthwhile read, very thought-provoking, the kind of book that stays with you long after reading the last page.”—Story Circle Book Reviews
"This book is making the rounds in tapestry circles, and it's easy to see why. It is a compulsively readable account of a fascinating man and his impact on his family, friends and the world of tapestry, through World War II and into the mid-century New York art world. While tapestry artists will find it especially interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at Jan Yoors's life, even readers with no particular interest in tapestry will find the story compelling. I do urge you to get your hands on a copy... It's a great read, and if you are a weaver, it is thought-provoking and informative." –Molly Elkind, Talking Textiles