Textile, Stimulus Collection: Fractions, ca. 1949
Medium: cotton Technique: screen printed on 3\1 twill weave Label: screen printed cotton. Gift of Berta Rudofsky. 1991-101-1
What is this?
Length of printed cotton with horizontal stripes made by repetition of typewriter keys. Dyed bright red-pink and overprinted with black.
Why is this important?
Bernard Rudofsky was one of design’s great polymath thinkers. The exhibitions he organized in mid-century New York provoked designers to look at the world in new ways. Trained as an architect in his native Moravia (present day Austria), he was not licensed to practice architecture in the United States. He went on to have an enormously influential career as a curator, writer, critic, exhibition designer, and even fashion designer.
Rudofsky’s screen-printed textile “Fractions” was part of a series of fabrics called the Stimulus Collection, commissioned by Schiffer Prints in 1949. Joining a group of well-known artists and designers who had never created textile patterns before, Rudofsky used his typewriter as a design tool, exploiting the regular width of standard typewriter letters to create fabrics gridded off with evenly sized, mechanically made units. Other contributors to the Stimulus series included George Nelson, Ray Eames, Paul McCobb, Edward Wormley, and Salvador Dali.