Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Some Texture: Dorothy Wright Liebes

[Above, a detail and, shown below, the full view of Dorothy Wright Liebes's Chinese Ribbon textile, 1940, cotton, silk and metallic yarn, 102 x 45 inches. Collection of Oakland Museum of California. Currently included in LACMA's California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way".]

Once a household name, celebrated handweaver and textile designer Dorothy Wright Liebes captured the attention of Life magazine in 1947 and her work was included in numerous museum exhibitions (just one example is MoMA's legendary midcentury Good Design series). Today, if you Google Liebes, you'll find her in the Met's timeline of art history. Adding to the record, in LACMA's hot-off-the-presses catalogue accompanying California Design, 1930–1965: "Living in a Modern Way", Melissa Leventon writes that Liebes was arguably the most influential textile designer in the United States during the 40s and 50s. Yet, her name doesn't seem to pop up much in conversation now -- at least not outside specific textile circles.

So, if you're able to visit Living in a Modern Way, be sure to see one of Liebes's signature, highly-textural designs, Chinese Ribbon. According to Leventon, the painter-turned-weaver/designer's work is characterized by a free-spirited use of vibrating color and unexpected materials such as tape measures, ribbons, wood, cellophane and metallic yarns. Liebes was also part of the movement to bring good, functional design to the masses. 

Click here to learn about LACMA's free California Design, 1930–1965: "Living in a Modern Way" app. Here for more on the book.

Another pioneering woman in textile design:Vanessa Bell. Click here for more.

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