Zodiac by Marion Dorn (American, 1899-1964) is an early screen-printed wallpaper produced by the American firm Bassett & Vollum. Containing the 12 signs of the zodiac with six printed in brilliant colors and six overprinted in white outline, Zodiac is a large-scale design printed on a deep green, almost black ground. The bold coloring and strong lines are characteristic of Dorn’s work. Each zodiac sign is rendered in a simplistic manner and printed in a solid block of color, with only the most essential elements delineated. While many of her designs were abstract and geometric, she continued to be inspired by nature, frequently employing shells, birds and foliage in her designs.
Marion Dorn was born and educated in the United States but traveled to Britain in the early 1920s to pursue her textile career. She started out designing printed textiles and batiks and later began designing rugs. She founded her own studio in London called Marion Dorn Ltd. in 1934 and by this time had begun screen-printing some of her textiles. Her first screen-printed wallpaper called Constellation was produced for Coles in 1938. Returning to the States in 1940 due to the impending war she set up a studio in New York and began receiving commissions for wallpaper designs, initially from Bassett & Vollum and later Katzenbach & Warren.
The earliest wallpapers screen-printed for commercial production were introduced in 1938 and a number of these papers were included in a 1939 wallpaper exhibition at the Cooper Union Museum. However, the majority of screen-printed wallpapers were introduced after the war, as there was a moratorium on new wallpaper designs from about mid-1942 until November 1, 1945. While individual patterns were released at the end of 1945 it took 14 months for the studios to produce and deliver their new collections to the public. After the war, screen-printing quickly established itself as a viable part of the industry.