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Cora Ginsburg - Costume, Textiles & Needlework
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Curtailed by the frugal climate of World War II, furniture manufacturer Hans Knoll’s early forays into textiles were limited. As wartime austerity dissipated and changing aesthetics and consumer needs emerged, fabrics assumed new importance in Knoll’s company. Recognized as one of the twentieth century’s most progressive interior design firms, Knoll inaugurated its textile division in 1947 with the opening of its first New York showroom devoted entirely to fabrics used in their furnishing schemes. Through the 1950s and 1960s, their noteworthy roster of designers included Anni Albers, Eszter Haraszty and Stig Lindberg, and was characterized by an emphasis on European and émigré talent. German-born Wolf Bauer (1939– ), whose bold design Collage is seen here, was a pivotal figure in Knoll Textiles’ international success.

Bauer is a multi-faceted artist, working in diverse media such as ceramics, glass and furniture, but he is probably best known for his dynamic fabrics. He attended the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste (State Academy of Art and Design) in Stuttgart, Germany, from 1959 to 1963, and graduated with a degree in textile design. Bauer was brought into the Knoll Textiles Overseas division by fellow German Barbara Rodes in the late 1960s. Developed under her supervision, the Bauer Print Collection—Fragment, Collage, Delta, and Stones—was silk screened onto cotton velvet and silk by Pausa AG in Germany for Knoll, and introduced in the United States in 1969. Bauer’s modernist sensibility, fusing color and texture into a singular design element, is perfectly captured by Collage—a trompe l’oeil pattern of columns assembled from torn paper pieces. This is one of at least five colorways produced, and it is, arguably, the most visually thrilling version of all: shades of electric orange, yellow, fuchsia, bubble-gum pink, lime and mint green seem to vibrate against the plush white velveteen ground. Bauer rendered the collage effect by imparting a sense of translucency in overlapping shapes and by leaving some edges “raw.” Rodes, recalling the stimulating collaboration with Bauer, remarked: “At the time we did the Bauer collection, I thought it was sensational and unique, and it was exciting to do. It was a team effort between the designers, the printer, and myself.” A1969 promotional photograph of Collage, taken on a beach in Guadeloupe, shows a billowing length of this particular colorway held aloft by a distant figure as it extends across an azure expanse of sea and sky.

Printed on the selvedge of this panel is: Collage Designed by Wolf Bauer, 1967 ©, Knoll International Ltd. Curiously, this predates the recorded launch of Bauer’s designs by two years. This discrepancy likely indicates that Knoll first debuted the print collection in Europe and subsequently released it in the United States. The Bauer Print Collection won the New York Industrial Award for Design Excellence in 1970; that same year, as further testament to his accomplishments, Bauer’s textile designs were the subject of a solo exhibition at the Design Center in Stuttgart.

96” H x 48” W
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