A limited yet dynamic color palette breathes life into the flat color motifs of this screen-printed woven linen textile by Ruth Hildegard Geyer-Raack. The pattern was possibly designed from her own studio (which she opened in 1924) but was produced in 1928 by Deutsche Werkstätten Textilgesselschaft mbH, also known as DEWE-TEX, which was founded in conjunction with the Gottlob Wunderlich factory at Waldkirchen-Zschopautal in 1923 to expand the Deutsche Werkstätten’s textile production.[1]

In this object we can see the traditional floral textile motif filtered through modernist themes of geometric abstraction, which so greatly influenced art and design in the 1920s and 30s. This large-scale, stylized floral pattern is comprised of bold graphic shapes. Geyer-Raack’s use of these whimsical simplified shapes, which float against a jarring black background, is not only an indicator of the modern movement from which she emerged, but it is also an artifact of the short time that she spent at the Bauhaus, as well as the influence of Josef Hillerbrand, who was a prominent designer for DEWE-TEX.[2]

Ruth Hildegard Geyer-Raack studied painting under Bruno Paul and took summer classes at the Bauhaus in 1920 and 1921, when the school was located in Weimar.[3] Set in this quaint artistic city, the school began as a kind of research laboratory for design theory and philosophy. It was there that Johannes Itten created the first 12-spoke color wheel while Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee taught their students to study fundamental design elements like circles, squares, and triangles. It was their belief that if these distilled forms of expression were mastered, a good designer could effectively apply them to all media. This revolutionary pedagogical approach was one of the Bauhaus’ greatest lasting legacies, but their aesthetic theories also significantly influenced the modern movement and were employed here by Ruth Hildegard Geyer-Raack.

 

Carly Lewis is currently earning an M.A. in the History of Decorative Arts and Design at Parsons. She has a B.S. in Textile Design from Philadelphia University and is focusing her studies on gender issues in regard to textile design practices in the 20th century. 



[1] Oxford Art Online, s.v. “Geyer-Raack, Ruth Hildegard,” October 20, 2006, accessed April 8, 2013.

[2] Lesley Jackson, “1910s-20s: Proto-Modernism, Modernism, and Moderne,” in Twentieth-Century Pattern Design: Textile & Wallpaper Pioneers (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002), 44.

[3] Oxford Art Online, s.v. “Geyer-Raack, Ruth Hildegard,” October 20, 2006, accessed April 8, 2013.

 

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