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What is this?

Square panel of stretched, unbleached linen with four circles, each 11.5 inches in diameter, placed in the four quarters of the square. Each circle is produced by the progressive counter-clockwise placing of linen yarns across the diameter of the circle. A relief effect is created in the center of each circle as the yarns cross and build up one upon the other, casting a shadow.

This object is full of stories

The Ford Foundation Headquarters, completed in 1967, was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates. Architect Warren Platner was responsible for the building’s interior. The design of the wall panels for the boardroom and auditorium was one of several collaborations between Platner and textile artist Sheila Hicks. At Yale, Hicks had studied with architects Vincent Scully and Louis Kahn, gaining an important understanding of architectural space. As a result, her site-specific works fully integrate with their environments.

The wall panels’ medallions in straight rows and columns create a quiet rhythm of visual interest. The orientation of the embroidered threads in each medallion is consistent, ensuring that each will capture and reflect light in the same way. For Platner, the embroidery of the wall panels was not ornament but a more visible and complimentary construction material. For Hicks, it was the first time that a contemporary textile was conceived of as integral to the architectural space, rather than as a decorative hanging. It was “a real breakthrough,” she later said, “… a pliable plane that was then brought into tension and became the actual wall.”

This is a panel from United States. It is dated 1967 and we acquired it in 1969. Gift of Sheila Hicks.

Its medium is

medium: linen technique: embroidered on plain weave label: linen embroidered in linen

Its dimensions are

H x W: 72 x 72 cm (28 3/8 x 28 3/8 in.)

This object was architect: Warren Platner and designed by Sheila Hicks

This object was donated by Sheila Hicks

See more stuff from the Textiles department.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=http://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18469323/ |title=Panel, "Study for Ford Foundation wall panels", 1967 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=22 December 2014 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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