Author: Maleyne Syracuse

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Hanging, 1973. Peter Collingwood (British, 1922 – 2008). Linen, metal rods. Museum purchase from Friends of Textiles Fund, 1976-37-1
Structure and Material in Perfect Harmony
Peter Collingwood was trained as a doctor but abandoned medicine for a distinguished career as a weaver. He studied weaving in the early 1950s with Ethel Mariat, Barbara Sawyer, and Alastair Morton, all preeminent British weavers of the time, before setting up his own studio. Collingwood was consumed by his interest in textile structures, fascinated...
Shirtwaist dress with long sleeves and a full skirt, made from off-white printed cotton fabric with black graphic images of clowns and acrobats, with the text "J'ai seul la clef a cette parade sauvage." With patches of turquoise blue and yellow-green.
A Modern Masters Series dress
This shirtwaist day dress was designed by celebrated fashion designer Claire McCardell, who is noted for her important contribution to “The American Look” of casual and active sportswear for women. It was made from a printed cotton fabric, Parade Sauvage, designed by Fernand Léger, one of the most prominent, prolific, and influential modern artists of...
Length of printed cotton with densely arranged, irregular, soft squares of white on a deep blue ground, suggesting the windows of skyscrapers.
Effect Before Everything
The design industry in the US flourished in the decade following World War II.  In textiles, small designer-led entrepreneurial firms drove the creative awakening, with an emphasis on innovative printed textiles that took their cues from modern art and architecture. Large established textile producers remained on the sidelines, wedded to the traditional brocades and satins...
red, repeating pattern, textile
A Puzzling Order
Anni Albers used her art to introduce order and clarity into an otherwise unstable and chaotic world.  She grew up in Berlin during World War I and in 1933 was forced to leave Germany for the US after the Nazis came to power and closed the Bauhaus where she and her husband, Josef Albers, were...
Textile, The Seder, 1930s
One Child’s Seder
This charming textile depicting a Seder was made in the late 1930s by A. Nedby, a ten-year old student at the Educational Alliance Art School on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The Educational Alliance was founded in 1889 to help Eastern European Jewish immigrants assimilate to life in America. In addition to vocational training and English...
geometric pattern
The Instruments of Christ’s Passion for $2 a Yard
In 1951, Fernand Léger designed seventeen monumental stained glass windows (vitrail, in French), depicting the instruments of Christ’s passion, for the new Eglise du Sacré Coeur in Audincourt, France. In 1955, Léger used the design for one of these windows, Pincers and Nails, as the pattern for Vitrail, a textile produced by Fuller Fabrics. Léger...
Chenille and plied yarn in red, green, blue and gold cord form even warp stripes. Weft has a repeated sequence of painted reeds: four blue, one orange, two green, and one orange.
Enhancing the View
Weaver and designer Dorothy Liebes owed much of her success to her ability to create textiles that complemented and enhanced mid-century modern architecture. Using windows to bring the outside in was an integral part of the period’s new design for living. Multiple large windows became a standard feature in new homes, often replacing fireplaces as...
Four circles, each 11.5 inches in diameter, place in the four quarters of a square in natural linen on a natural linen background. Each circle is a fanning of stretched yarns floating on the surface of the foundation fabric produced by the progressive counter-clockwise placing of yarns on the diameter of the circle. A relief is created in the center of each circle as the yarns cross and build up one upon the other. The yarns are attached to the foundation fabric in the manner of embroidery.
A Pliable Plane
The granite and glass Ford Foundation Headquarters Building on East 42nd Street in Manhattan was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates. Completed in 1967, the building is an icon of International Style Modernism. New York Times critic Ada Louise Huxtable hailed the building, with its sky-lit atrium and lush indoor garden, as “12 stories...
Textile, "Gold Ripple-Wave Fabric", ca. 1956
A Fabric with a Touch of Tomorrow
America 1957.  Eisenhower was the President. Elvis was the King. And Ford Motor Company introduced its new 1957 automobiles, a “new kind of Ford with a touch of tomorrow.”  The new Fords were wider, longer, lower, and zippier. Under the hood, the “inner Ford” has been re-engineered: that’s “what put the magic in the new...