Drawing, Radio City Music Hall, New York City: Carpet Design, Singing Women, 1932
Brush and brown, tan, and purple gouache, graphite on heavy cream paper.
Gift of Donald Deskey. 1975-11-56.
- Designed by Donald Deskey
What is this?
Repeat pattern of women's profiles, stylized, with wavy hair and open mouths. The faces are painted alternately in tan and purple.
Why is this important?
Among Donald Deskey’s most impressive and memorable contributions to American design were his elegant interiors for Radio City Music Hall, one of the first projects that sealed his future fate as a leader in an emerging industrial design profession. Though Deskey — relatively unknown to average person at that time — was not well paid for the project, his contract was extensive in scope: He ultimately designed the music venue’s lobby furniture, wall coverings, lighting fixtures, railings, mirrors, and carpeting, such as the repeat pattern of stylized women’s profiles he created for the 5,901-seat auditorium. Called Singing Women, the wavy-haired, open-mouthed faces alternate in color between tan and purple forming a chevron-like arrangement. In 1978, the building was marked for demolition before gaining landmark status and a decade-long restoration began in 1990s. Thanks in large part to the Deskey Archives at Cooper-Hewitt and particularly this drawing dated 1932 — the same year Radio City opened to the public — an architectural team was able to accurately replicate Deskey’s original design using wool and nylon fiber to revive it to its original grandeur.
This object has been included in the following exhibitions: