Jacqueline Groag was one of the United Kingdom’s most influential post-war textile designers. She began her career at the famed Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna before designing and producing hand-printed textiles for some of the top Parisian fashion houses, including Chanel, Lanvin, Worth, Schiaparelli, and Poiret.
She was also one of only a few of the Associated American Artists members who brought technical training to the design of her textiles, produced in collaboration with Riverdale Fabrics. As such, her creations reflect a sophisticated understanding of colors and repeats, as well as the fabrics’ intended use in three-dimensional formats. (1)
This design, called Puppet Ballet, appeared inside the front cover of the April-May 1954 Vogue Pattern Book (2). Although Groag’s doll-like figures are constructed from the simplest of geometric shapes, their arrangement is deceptively complex: it’s not easy to pinpoint the repeat of the design, or whether the puppets are actually connected to their strings.
Groag’s motif is reminiscent of the drawings made by the Bauhaus master Oskar Schlemmer in planning his Triadic Ballet. Schlemmer, who was director, choreographer and costume designer of the piece, envisioned the dancers’ body parts in abstraction, transforming them into what he called “figurines.”
(1) Gail Windisch, Sylvan Cole Jr., and Karen J. Herbaugh, Art for Every Home: Associated American Artists, 1934-2000 (Manhattan: Marianna Kistler Beach Museum, Kansas State University, 2016): 204.
(2) Karen J. Herbaugh, “Index of AAA Textile Designs,” in Art for Every Home: An Illustrated Index of Associated American Artists Prints, Ceramics, and Textile Designs (Manhattan: Marianna Kistler Beach Museum, Kansas State University, 2016), http://hdl.handle.net/2097/19686.