Thursday, August 28, 2014

Line for Line's Sake: Vintage Quilts

Mid-20th century

I'm always impressed by a vintage quilt
that looks modern. Here are a few that
accidentally (or on purpose) make
excellent use of line in the composition

Mid-20th century

Late 19th century crib quilt
From an old Quilt Engagement Calendar
and the America Hurrah collection

Mid-20th century string star

Mid-20th century string star in a crazy background
From Rocky Mountain Quilts

Monday, August 25, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Maria May

"Lace," spray-painted fabric design by 
Maria May (1900-1968), Berlin, Germany, 1930.

Sometimes innovation in design requires innovation in technology. In the 1920s Maria May taught at the textile workshops at the Reimann School, where she developed Spritzdecor or spray paint techniques and materials. 

The picture of "Lace," above, is from European Textile Design of the 1920s, a catalog of the textile collection from that decade by curators Katharin Metz and Ingrid Mossinger of the Stadtische Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz. You can find the book in German or English.

It's difficult to find pictures of May's spray-painted designs. This catalog has the most comprehensive collection I've seen.

The cover fabric "Paris" was done in 1930

Spritzdekor was done with templates and a spray gun, what 
is also called air-brush technique now.

With Otto Arpke, May did spray-painted scenes on silk for the interior of the Hindenburg zeppelin.

1943 colonial lady painting on paper

Spray-painted design took off in strange directions

You can see the influence of its shaded gradations in bark cloth
of the 1940s and '50s

even if there was no spray gun used in design or production.

The most important influence may have been in ceramics and glass

where spritzdekor was all the rage.

Martha Stewart Living magazine recently did an article about spritzdekor kitchenware.

The domestic American version was ironstone restaurant
ware by Buffalo China and other manufacturers.

See more about the Art Museum in Chemnitz:

1928 photo by Edward Steichen
Word of the day: Spritzdekor

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Principles of Modernism: Line for Line's Sake

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres: Study for Louise de Broglie

This 1853 drawing by Ingres (pronounced somewhat like Ang) shows
his masterly use of line to create form and likeness.

For centuries line was a tool that artists used to depict a 3-dimensional world on a flat surface.

Franz Kline, Buttress, 1956, 
Collection of the Museum of Modern Art

Modernism aimed to free art's tools. Kline did not
use line to portray anything else. His lines were the art.

Line for the sake of line influenced fabric design as
in these mid-20th-century abstract feedsacks, drapes and dress prints that celebrate line.
High fashion and low....

Princess Elizabeth about 1950 in a print by Gerald Wilde 
for Ascher Ltd. (London)



Dress print

Drapery fabric


The great appeal of some antique quilts
is how they echo the abstract artists' celebration of the line.

Crazy quilts from early 20th century

String quilt from about 1960

See another post about line:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Ross Littell

With so many free-lance designers it is sometimes difficult to figure out
who actually designed a piece. Last week I showed this
print Trapeze from Laverne Incorporated and credited the design
to Estelle Laverne, but now I realize it was likely designed by
Ross Littell who worked for Laverne in the 1950s.

Ross Littell 

Mira by Ross Littell, 1958

Littell was working at a time when
printed pattern was out of fashion. He was one of few designing textiles for
Knoll, Herman Miller and other furniture makers who produced
repeat prints.

His work is very late-1950s, '60s-style.

Textiles include screen printed wall hangings.

Littell was born in California, graduated from New York City's
Pratt Institute and worked for several furniture companies
designing furniture and textiles. About 1960 he moved to Copenhagen to design furniture
and later to Italy.

Bard College had a show of Knoll Textiles a few years ago.
Watch a video of his son David Littell
walking through the Littell exhibit

Mira is one of a couple of Littell prints that have
been reproduced. See it as a sheer here:

Tomoko is also currently available.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rococo Revival

On the topic of Modern/Not Modern we have the rococo revival in the first half of the 20th century.

Rococo revival bark cloth

 Rococo furniture
Not Modern

Rococo (pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable) is a style of  high-fashion 18th century European decoration. It's characterized by layers of decoration, in particular shell-like shapes. The word Rococo, applied in the 19th century when the revivals began, is thought be a combination of French and Italian from the French rocaille for stones and coquilles for shell, a play on the word Baroque.

Read a post I did a few years ago on rococo in early American quilts.

Cornucopia, footed vases and S-shaped curves are
a style characteristic

These rococo-style florals are bark cloth, the heavy
furnishing fabrics popular in the 1940s and '50s.

They offered more traditional decorating in contrast to the "modern" bark cloth

Some had no trouble mixing abstractions and rococo floral.

These rococo style bark cloth designs of the mid-20th
century are just a continuation of earlier furnishing fabrics

like the cretonnes above and below, which
featured similar designs in different colors from about 1880-1920.
In the 1890s the fabric was called cretonne, in the 1940s
bark cloth was a more modern word.