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Textile, Abacus, 1946

This is a textile. It was designed by Paul Rand and manufactured by L. Anton Maix, Inc.. It is dated 1946 and we acquired it in 2003. Its medium is linen and its technique is screen printed on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Lawrence Anton Maix was a successful textile producer in the 1950s and 1960s as well as an early American proponent of modernist upholstery and interior furnishing fabrics. He was initially employed by Hans Knoll when Knoll first began his furniture company. During his decade tenure at Knoll, Maix became friends with designers such as Serge Chermayeff, Jens Risom, and George Nelson—some of whom were enlisted to produce textiles for Maix after he started his independent business in 1948.

In 1949, Maix began to produce textiles under his own name. It was at this point, that he employed Paul Rand and other successful designers, like Alvin Lustig and Chermayeff, to produce a new line of designs called the Campagna collection. The textile proposed for acquisition, Rand’s Abacus, is one of the designs from this collection. It is a screenprinted textile on plain weave in black, blue, and green on a natural linen ground. Its heavy horizontal stripes and narrower vertical stripes with irregularly-spaced ovals evoke the form of an abacus. The design was featured in a number of magazines and was distinguished with the MoMA Good Design award in 1950. Rand first used this design in 1946 on the cover of his book, Thoughts on Design.
The museum already possesses a smaller sample of this particular fabric in another colorway. The three yard length that is being offered is extremely rare and comes from Maix’s widow. It is in excellent condition and would be a remarkable acquisition.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled Abacus.

This object was purchased from Giles Kotcher. It is credited Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. William Goulding.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 290.8 x 130.2 cm (114 1/2 x 51 1/4 in.) Repeat H: 102.9 cm (40 1/2 in.)

It is inscribed

L.ANTON MAIX N.Y.C. ABACUS by PAUL RAND PATT.REP 40 1/2" (printed in selvedge)

Cite this object as

Textile, Abacus, 1946. linen. Museum purchase through gift of Mrs. William Goulding. 2003-7-1.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile, Abacus, 1946 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=28 November 2015 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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