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1952

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2017

2019

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Textile, Shell Chest, 1952

This is a Textile. It is dated 1952 and we acquired it in 2017. Its medium is cotton and its technique is printed by engraved roller. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Shell Chest was Witold Gordon’s only design for Associated American Artists, a collective whose founder, Reeves Lewenthal, believed in marketing fine art to the masses. In 1951, AAA collaborated with textile distributor Riverdale Fabrics to produce a line of artist-designed fabrics which were available both as yard goods and ready-made draperies, bedspreads, and pillows. The Pioneer Pathways collection of eight designs on Americana themes, included Grant Wood’s The Ride of Paul Revere, Aaron Bohrad’s Country Auction, and Doris Lee’s Curio Cabinet. Gordon was no doubt chosen for his well-known renderings of American regional storefronts and signs, but uncharacteristically he created a pattern of scattered seashells and corals.
Shell Chest was one of several designs from the Pioneer Pathways collection available with coordinated "Stonelain" ceramics. The collections launched at Macy’s in New York, showcased in interior settings. Gordon made appearances in the store to promote the products, which subsequently became available in over one hundred stores nationwide. At L.S. Ayres department store in Indianapolis, Shell Chest was displayed with an Eames Lounge Chair Wood, perhaps making a connection between the pattern's natural forms and The Museum of Modern Art, New York's Organic Design exhibition of 1941.

This object was donated by Jonathan O'Hea. It is credited Gift of Jonathan O'Hea.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 571.5 × 118.3 cm (18 ft. 9 in. × 46 9/16 in.)

It is inscribed

(printed in selvedge) A Riverdale Fabric "Shell Chest" Created by Witold Gordon of Associated American Artists (copyright) 1952 A Color Tested Fabric Best Obtainable Vat Dyes Shrunketized

Cite this object as

Textile, Shell Chest, 1952; cotton; H x W: 571.5 × 118.3 cm (18 ft. 9 in. × 46 9/16 in.); Gift of Jonathan O'Hea; 2017-38-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108800543/ |title=Textile, Shell Chest, 1952 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 March 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>