The Textile Museum showcases gorgeous colors and innovative designs in Art by the Yard: Women Design Mid-Century Britain.
By Julie LaPorte
The Textile Museum recently celebrated the opening of Art by the Yard: Women Design Mid-Century Britain, featuring three of Britain’s most talented designers – Lucienne Day, Jacqueline Groag and Marian Mahler. Over 50 textiles, preliminary drawings, collages, ceramics and period furniture are on display through September 12.
After the destruction and privations of World War II, consumers were looking to rebuild their lives and to surround themselves with optimism and beauty, a desire which can easily be recognized in the textiles of the period. Day, Groag and Mahler were leaders in producing textiles with saturated colors, bold lines, energetic designs and whimsical interpretations of nature and music. They also moved toward art-inspired design – referencing modern and surrealistic artists such as Alexander Calder, Joan Miro, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky.
“At a time when England was recovering from the devastation of World War II, these young designers created elegant and affordable fabrics that brought the world of contemporary art into everyone’s home,” said Bruce Baganz, president of the museum’s Board of Trustees. “They truly transformed the art of textile design and they continue to remain the source of artistic inspiration today.”
The whole collection is happy and playful, and one of the placards offered insight into the mood. Instead of cluttered up and immobile Victorian rooms, these designs have “given place to light and air, grace and pace, color has itself contributed to motion and the breaking up of texture has provided not only new patterns but provided the movement our post-war eyes demand.” Color and movement – if that is what consumers were seeking, their demands were fulfilled in these beautiful works of art.
“I think the word artist is how we should refer to [Day, Groag, and Mahler],” said Kirk Brown, who owns the collection with his wife Jill Wiltse. “When we first started collecting, we thought of them and referred to them as designers, but as time has come along we’ve seen them truly as artists.”
Curated by Shanna Shelby, Art by the Yard: Women Design Mid-Century Britain is on display until September 12. For more information on the display as well as educational outreaches offered in conjunction with the collection, visit the Textile Museum’s website.