Through a close look at the history of the modernist hooked rug, this book raises important questions about the broader history of American modernism in the first half of the twentieth century. Although hooked rugs are not generally associated with the avant-garde, this study demonstrates that they were a significant part of the artistic production of many artists engaged in modernist experimentation. Cynthia Fowler discusses the efforts of Ralph Pearson and of Zoltan and Rosa Hecht to establish modernist hooked rug industries in the 1920s, uncovering a previously undocumented history. The book includes a consideration of the rural workers used to create the modernist narrative of the hooked rug, as cottage industries were established throughout the rural Northeast and South to serve the ever increasing demand for hooked rugs by urban consumers. Fowler closely examines institutional enterprises that highlighted and engaged the modernist hooked rugs, such as key exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1930s and '40s. This study reveals the fluidity of boundaries among art, craft and design, and the profound efforts of a devoted group of modernists to introduce the general public to the value of modern art.
'The articulation of craft's complex position in modernism is perhaps the most salient of the book's achievements. Fowler's history is straightforward, well referenced and clear.' Textile History
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: positioning the modernist hooked rug within the history of American art, craft and design; Beginnings: traditional and modern converged; The design workshop and the New Age association; Hooked rug production in North Carolina and Maine; Hooked rugs for the modern American home; Hooked rugs and the art in industry effort; Epilogue: the modernist hooked rug in retrospect; Bibliography and further reading; Index.
About the Series
The Histories of Material Culture and Collecting provides a forum for the broad study of object acquisition and collecting practices in their global dimensions from 1700 to 1950. The series seeks to illuminate the intersections between material culture studies, art history, and the history of collecting. It takes as its starting point the idea that objects both contributed to the formation of knowledge in the past and likewise contribute to our understanding of the past today. The human relationship to objects has proven a rich field of scholarly inquiry, with much recent scholarship either anthropological or sociological rather than art historical in perspective. Underpinning this series is the idea that the physical nature of objects contributes substantially to their social meanings, and therefore that the visual, tactile, and sensual dimensions of objects are critical to their interpretation. This series therefore seeks to bridge anthropology and art history, sociology and aesthetics. It encompasses the following areas of concern: 1. Material culture in its broadest dimension, including the high arts of painting and sculpture, the decorative arts (furniture, ceramics, metalwork, etc.), and everyday objects of all kinds. 2. Collecting practices, be they institutionalized activities associated with museums, governmental authorities, and religious entities, or collecting done by individuals and social groups. 3. The role of objects in defining self, community, and difference in an increasingly international and globalized world, with cross-cultural exchange and travel the central modes of object transfer. 4. Objects as constitutive of historical narratives, be they devised by historical figures seeking to understand their past or in the form of modern scholarly narratives. The series publishes interdisciplinary and comparative research on objects that addresses one or more of these perspectives and includes monographs, thematic studies, and edited volumes of essays.
BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
- ART / History / Contemporary (1945-)