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Textile, Conquistador

This is a Textile. It was designed by Larsen Design Studio and produced by Jack Lenor Larsen Incorporated. It is dated 1966 and we acquired it in 2016. Its medium is cotton, silicone acrylic latex backing and its technique is printed on cut supplementary warp pile (velvet). It is a part of the Textiles department.

Conquistador, introduced as part of Jack Lenor Larsen Incorporated’s 1967 Andean Collection, became one of the company’s signature fabrics. Its complex design beautifully melds two of Larsen’s numerous passions: admiration for the arts of the Andes, and a fascination with resist-dye techniques.
A great admirer and student of the world’s dye-resist techniques, Larsen published his in-depth study, The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi, in 1976 to document these varied techniques. He worked closely with Larsen Design Studio president Winn Anderson to develop a way to mechanically reproduce the unique effects of hand-drawn wax-resist batik. In Conquistador, the fabric is printed with a specially formulated hot wax mixture combining beeswax and paraffin, which is allowed to cool and crack. The fabric is dyed once with the wax resist intact, and again once the wax has been removed, in closely related colors to give a tortoiseshell effect with the “crackle effect” unique to wax dyeing. The top-secret batik process was done in-house, by Larsen employees.
The design is an interpretation of a carved lectern Larsen had seen on a trip to Cuzco, Peru. “Carved in cedarwood over a lifetime by an Indian convert, it displayed imaginary heavens above the reader’s head. Below, a three-dimensional filigree tapering like an inverted cone portrayed all too vividly the agonies of Purgatory.” Larsen’s version is of abstract ornament in the style of Andean Baroque stonework.

This object was donated by Longhouse Reserve. It is credited Cowtan and Tout Larsen Archive Collection, Gift of Longhouse Reserve.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 284.5 × 139.7 cm (9 ft. 4 in. × 55 in.) Repeat H: 91.4 cm (36 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Conquistador; Designed by Larsen Design Studio (United States); Produced by Jack Lenor Larsen Incorporated (United States); cotton, silicone acrylic latex backing; H x W: 284.5 × 139.7 cm (9 ft. 4 in. × 55 in.) Repeat H: 91.4 cm (36 in.); Cowtan and Tout Larsen Archive Collection, Gift of Longhouse Reserve; 2016-32-7

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile, Conquistador |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=30 May 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>