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Zeros

A work made of cotton, weft-float faced broken twill weave; screen printed with vat-dyes.

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  • A work made of cotton, weft-float faced broken twill weave; screen printed with vat-dyes.

Date:

1949

Artist:

Bernard Rudofsky (American, born Austria, 1905-1988)
Printed for Schiffer Prints (American, 20th century)

About this artwork

Trained as an architect and engineer in Vienna, after his schooling Bernard Rudofsky led a peripatetic existence, traveling in Europe, the United States, and South America. In 1941, with his first name listed as Bernardo and his country as Brazil, Rudofsky was named a Latin American prizewinner in the Museum of Modern Art “Organic Design Competition” for his wood and metal furniture designs that notably featured fabrics made with “Brazilian fibers.” Although he stayed in New York after the competition (and became a US citizen in 1948), Rudofsky did not have an American architecture license and therefore turned his attention to other avenues of design.

From 1949 through 1962, Schiffer Prints, a division of Mil-Art Company, Inc., commissioned artists such as Rudofsky, Salvador Dalí, Ray Eames, and Edward Wormley to produce designs for printed fabrics. To produce his designs, Rudofsky relied on his trusty Olivetti typewriter, which he had purchased during a sojourn in Italy. Zeros plays with the eponymous number as well as its relationship to the letter “o” and the period. The subtle variations in the forms reinforce the discrepancies that occur when the metal slug of type at the end of the typewriter arm strikes the ribbon. In this way, Rudofsky reminds the viewer that the typewriter is an instrument for printing, fitting as he used it to make designs for printed textiles. His allusion to a fundamental method of manufacture fits within his larger philosophy, in which he proposed that nothing modern truly was as novel as it was made out to be. Moreover, as an advocate for individuality rather than conformity, these subtle differences surely appealed to his strongly held ideals.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Textiles

Artists

Bernard Rudofsky , Schiffer Prints (Printer)

Title

Zeros

Place

United States (Object made in)

Date

Made 1949

Medium

Cotton, weft-float faced broken twill weave; screen printed with vat-dyes

Inscriptions

Printed on selvage: 'Zeros' by Bernard Rudofsky / Schiffer Fabrics - Vat Dye Hand Print

Dimensions

137.2 × 116.8 cm (54 × 46 in.)

Credit Line

Beatrice Swartchild Trust Endowment Fund

Reference Number

2019.789

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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