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What is this?

Length of printed cotton with densely arranged, irregular, soft squares of white on a deep blue ground, suggesting the windows of skyscrapers.

Why is this in our collection?

Van Dyke Squares may have been the only textile designed by architect Philip Johnson. In 1949, when this textile was introduced, Johnson was Director of the Department of Architecture and Design at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art and was in the early years of his career as an architect. That same year, he completed one of his very first and still most celebrated projects: his home, The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut.
Johnson’s abstract pattern was inspired by an eclectic source. A contemporary article in the New York Times reported that the “random composition of small square blotches” was “suggested by a peculiar defect […] on a Van Dyke print of an architectural plan.” Van Dyke printing was a wet-process reprographic technique used for making intermediary copies of architectural plans, with white lines on a dark brown ground. Johnson chose to render his design in pure white on a deep blue ground, a dramatic color scheme reminiscent of more familiar architectural blueprints.

This is a textile from United States. It is dated ca. 1953 and we acquired it in 1956. Gift of Arundell Clarke.

This image is on display This object is currently on display in room 206 as part of Making Design.

Its medium is

medium: cotton technique: screen printed with discharge on plain weave label: cotton, screen printed with discharge

Its dimensions are

H x W: 440.1 x 132.1 cm (14 ft. 5 1/4 in. x 52 in.) Repeat H: 74 cm (29 1/8 in.)

A timeline of event horizons

This object has been included in the following exhibitions:

See more stuff from the Textiles department.

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile, Van Dyke Squares, ca. 1953 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=31 July 2015 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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