The Art and Enterprise of American Design, 1875–1900
October 10, 2001–January 6, 2002
Accompanied by a catalogue
Candace Wheeler (1827–1924) was America's first important woman textile and interior designer. Through approximately 105 textiles, wallpapers, paintings, photographs, and objects, this exhibition surveys Wheeler's long life and the highlights of her career. The main focus of the exhibition is the period between 1877, when Wheeler founded the Society of Decorative Art in New York, and 1893, when she served as the interior decorator of the Woman's Building at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Her textile designs, many based upon American plants and flowers drawn in sinuously flowing patterns, are central to the exhibition. Also included are paintings, graphics, and furniture by her associates, such as Louis Comfort Tiffany and Lockwood de Forest.
A selection of fifty luxurious textiles in a variety of fibers, such as silk, cotton, linen, and metallic blends designed by Wheeler and the members of her textile and interior design firm, Associated Artists, are among the highlights of the exhibition. These textiles range from beautifully appliquéd and embroidered hangings to flowing yardage of warp-printed silk. An ornately carved and inlaid armchair (1879) by Louis Comfort Tiffany (18481933) and two examples of teakwood furniture, made in India, by Lockwood de Forest (18501932) are also featured. Wheeler worked with both American design luminaries prior to creating her own firm in 1883.
Drawing from the Museum's collection, Women China Decorators in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (on view October 10, 2001–April 14, 2002) features approximately forty works dating from 1853 to the 1920s, highlighting the development of the women's china-decorating movement in America.