Leonard Fox Ltd

Modern Illustrated Books, Artists' Books, Fine Art

Sirooni in Context

December 1, 2008 - December 19, 2008

Leonard Fox, Ltd. is pleased to announce Sirooni in Context, an exhibit of original designs in gouache from the New York design firm Sirooni, Inc.

Sirooni, like many design firms working in America and abroad, developed large selections of swatches for the design industry. Swatches were intended as a source of inspiration--to spark creative ideas for a variety of products including fabrics, garments, accessories, home furnishings and wallpapers. The Sirooni swatch designs--some 2 by 3 feet or larger--offer a full range of colors, patterns, themes, and provide insight into American culture of the 1920s to the 1950s. They can be linked to specific periods in history through their stylized shapes such as the linear, angular, and rounded forms as well as art deco repeats. Collected and commissioned by Sirooni, the swatches were painted throughout the first half of the 20th century, predominantly in New York and France. Most designs are the work of anonymous artists and illustrators, though some are signed. The artists identified most frequently are French: Thierry Studd, Gerspracher, Maerky, and Alfred Wonnenburger, all of Paris, and Latscha, Lerdung & Albisser of Mulhouse, a town famous for its mills and with a strong connection to Louisiana. These decorative designs are shown in Sirooni in Context alongside canonical examples of European design and fashion publications by such greats as Seguy, Delaunay, Poiret, Dufy and Garcelon, who clearly demonstrate their influence.

Another major influence was the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in 1925, which was followed by several exhibitions on European design in American museums. These exhibitions centered on the importance of art in everyday life through design of mass-produced goods. The American Museum of Natural History, MOMA, Brooklyn Museum, and the Newark Museum were all instrumental in opening their collections to designers to study and to use as a source of inspiration. M.D.C. Crawford, in his role as editor at Women's Wear, promoted the use of museum collections for design inspiration and encouraged designers to make use of Museum's ethnographic collections. The growing importance of industrial design, the impact of European modernism, and the influence of Americans museums has a direct impact on the design industry. This influence can be seen through the images in the Sirooni swatch collection.

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