Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction

Vera (Vera Neumann). Stone on Stone. c. 1950 489

Printed linen, 68 1/2 x 43" (174 x 109.2 cm). Gift of Printex Corporation

Juliet Kinchin: We're looking at two fabrics designed by Vera called Stone on Stone. One is printed on silk, the other on linen, and in different color combinations. They represent beautifully this explosion in designs for printed textiles that was occurring after the end of the Second World War.

This was abstract art that you could literally buy by the yard. And Vera, who was on first-name terms with an international audience, designed these textiles which could be found everywhere, from the White House to Marilyn Monroe, to department stores throughout the U.S. It was taking art off the gallery walls and surrounding people with it in their everyday lives.

Every single design started with a drawing by Vera herself. She said, "Color is the language I speak best," but it was applied in relation to different fabrics which she carefully controlled. She was intensely aware of how each fabric moved and handled, whether it was wafty and translucent like the silk fabric or with a more tectonic feel and beautiful cascading drape to it, like some of her heavier fabrics.

And in the post-war modern interiors, textiles like these were providing bold color and these geometric patterns, which provided a foil in often architecturally subdued interiors. Vera designs communicate this liberated, very joyful mid-century design sensibility.

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