Sidewall, Poppies. Designed by Ben Morris, made by Hubbell Pierce Wallpapers. New York, ca. 1968. Screen-printed on paper
Gift of Philip Graf, 1969-53-7.

Another Floral Wallpaper

Floral designs make up the largest grouping of wallpapers in the Museum’s collection by far. Many of the gilded embossed leathers, some of the oldest wallcoverings in the collection dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, contain repeating floral patterns and I would guess that every style and period has representative samples in the collection. While the style in which they have been rendered varies greatly over time, they have never fallen out of fashion. Talk about longevity! A few of the floral papers are nondescript and can be hard to date, but most are quite representative of the period in which they were produced. Poppies is a beautiful example of this. Printed in high contrast with bright red and blue on a white ground the flowers have been reduced to minimal detail, in some cases just a void in the printed background color. The scale is large and the design is very flat, no shadows or highlights were added to suggest depth. There is a nice flow or rhythm to the arrangement of the flowers and your eyes travel from the fire of the red poppies to the cool blue background. The design is strong but not overpowering and would not overwhelm if used on four walls.

I have been unable to find any information on the designer Ben Morris. This is the only paper in the collection known to be designed by him. However, Hubbell Pierce, the manufacturer, has a very interesting story. He was born in Atlanta where he started singing and he later moved up to New York City, where he continued performing and established his wallpaper company. Pierce was a jazz singer and pianist who specialized in the songs of Cole Porter. He took nearly a 20 year hiatus from his jazz career to design textiles and wallpapers during which period Poppies was produced. He returned to his career as a performer in the late 1970s, and sadly, died of cancer at a young age in 1980.

Museum Number: 
1969-53-7