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Object Timeline

1952

  • Work on this object began.

2016

  • We acquired this object.

2019

  • You found it!

Curtain Panels, Pagan Magic, 1952

This is a Curtain panels. It was designed by Aaron Bohrod. It is dated 1952 and we acquired it in 2016. Its medium is cotton and its technique is printed. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Aaron Bohrod, the painter and printmaker who moonlighted as a WPA muralist and Life magazine artist correspondent, began his work with Associated American Artists in 1939. His printmaking experience is evident in Pagan Magic, one of his textile designs for AAA.
In the February 27, 1953 edition of The New York Times, Betty Pepis wrote, “Equally unusual is ‘Pagan Magic,’ a primitive batik of Polynesian signs, symbols and handcrafts that is the work of Aaron Bohrod. Executed in black on white with subtle shadings of gray it gives the impression of duplicating the technique of an Oriental stone rubbing. It is also available in bright red, olive green or sepia brown on white, or in brilliant multi-color combinations that seem both less successful and less usable.”
The original design was apparently considered problematic. According to Karen J. Herbaugh, “AAA director Reeves Lewenthal told the artist that Riverdale would approve his design if a hula dancer motif were replaced with a palm or other plant and the bulging eyes of an idol toned down.” (1)
Despite these issues, this design gained traction within the home goods markets. Pagan Magic was featured in the February 1953 issue of Woman’s Home Companion. (2) It later appeared multiple times in a spread depicting a modernist den in the fall/winter 1955 Spiegel Home Shopping Book. (3)
The curtains presented here are made from Pagan Magic in one of its multicolored iterations. There are two panels with pinch pleats and metal rings, lined with ivory cotton sateen.
Pagan Magic yardage in this colorway (1995-48-2) is currently represented in the form of yardage in the museum’s collection. Bohrod’s work is also included within a sample book from the Galleries of Associated American Artists, “Masterpiece Interiors” (1954-22-1-1/116).
(1) Gail Windisch, Sylvan Cole Jr., and Karen J. Herbaugh, Art for Every Home: Associated American Artists, 1934-2000 (Manhattan: Marianna Kistler Beach Museum, Kansas State University, 2016): 202.
(2) Karen J. Herbaugh, “Index of AAA Textile Designs,” in Art for Every Home: An Illustrated Index of Associated American Artists Prints, Ceramics, and Textile Designs (Manhattan: Marianna Kistler Beach Museum, Kansas State University, 2016), http://hdl.handle.net/2097/19686.
(3) Gail Windisch, Sylvan Cole Jr., and Karen J. Herbaugh, Art for Every Home: Associated American Artists, 1934-2000 (Manhattan: Marianna Kistler Beach Museum, Kansas State University, 2016): 178-179.

This object was donated by American Textile History Museum. It is credited American Textile History Museum Collection.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 151.1 × 109.2 cm (59 1/2 in. × 43 in.)

Cite this object as

Curtain Panels, Pagan Magic, 1952; Designed by Aaron Bohrod (American, 1907 - 1992); cotton; H x W: 151.1 × 109.2 cm (59 1/2 in. × 43 in.); American Textile History Museum Collection; 2016-35-60-a,b

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108711657/ |title=Curtain Panels, Pagan Magic, 1952 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=18 March 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>