I always get a kick out of this wallpaper with its humor, its play on traditional design, and its spunk. Who would have thought the lowly meatball could be elevated to star status on a wallpaper? It’s unexpected to find a meatball slapped on a wall, outside of a food fight, and rather a new twist on an old design format. The design consists of meatballs, lots of meatballs, big ones alternating with small ones. All are printed with highlights and shadows which gives the design some depth.
The small ones are connected by dotted lines which pay tribute to the traditional trellis or diamond trellis format. The trellis is one of those design formulas that rise and fall in popularity but never really go out of fashion. They were very popular in the early nineteenth century, recommended by Godey’s Ladies Book in the 1850s, and can be seen in Betty Boop cartoons of the 1920s. Can’t get more high style than that!
The meatball pattern is printed on a found ground containing a green basket weave design. This background introduces a nice secondary pattern and kind of holds all the meatballs together. If you imagine this meatball pattern printed on a plain white ground it would just be kind of vacuous, lacking in substance. And the fact that the ground color is green and the meatballs are a complementary pinky color creates a strong visual tension and gives the design some energy. While this seems like a simple idea I think the artist really thought this through to make all these different design elements work.
Christine Tarkowski is a Chicago-based artist who has created numerous wallpapers, each of them witty and engaging. She is also a fan of wallpapering the exteriors of buildings or structures with a printed skin, giving them a whole new perspective. These projects include lining the windows of a defunct Woolworth’s store with large mothballs, and wrapping a building with images of hay bales, creating a wonderful illusion while also activating the olfactory system.