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Candace Wheeler: The Art and Enterprise of American Design, 1875–1900

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Candace Wheeler: The Art and Enterprise of American Design, 1875–1900

Candace Wheeler: The Art and Enterprise of American Design, 1875–1900
Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art/Yale Un Pr | 2001 | ISBN: 1588390020/0300090811 | English | PDF | 286 pages | 52.21 Mb

Candace Wheeler (1827–1923) changed the course of textile and interior design in the nineteenth century America and was a driving force behind the professionalization of women in the design field. Inspired by the embroideries produced by England's Royal School of Art Needlework, which she saw at the 1876 Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, Wheeler founded the Society of Decorative Art in New York. The organization offered instruction in the applied arts to women and helped them sell their work, providing them some measure of economic independence. Wheeler was acquainted with leading figures in the New York art world and, as a textile specialist, went into partnership with Louis Comfort Tiffany in an interior design firm; the company was commissioned to decorate lavish interiors for the Seventh Regiment Armory, the Union League Club, and the homes of wealthy New Yorkers. In 1883 Wheeler formed her own firm, Associated Artists, which produced both hand-wrought and machine-made textiles and was staffed entirely by women.

Artistically, Wheeler had begun by taking as her model the accomplishments of advanced British designers such as William Morris and Walter Crane. In the course of her career she absorbed elements of Japanese design and developed a sophisticated American textile style in which the natural forms of native plants were interpreted as free-flowing designs. Moving away from the opulent works of early commissions, she took up the challenge of producing fabrics that were not only beautiful but also affordable and practical for use in middle-class homes. To accomplish this she explored unusual weaving and printing techniques, and in some cases invented new ones.

Appointed director of design for the Woman's Building of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Wheeler helped establish an important, visible role for women in the arts. In the course of her life she also wrote influential books on decorating and co-founded a summer artists' colony. The story of this strong-willed, talented woman's career is also a revealing social history and a view of the transformation of American taste as the country grew increasingly confident and cosmopolitan.

This publication, which accompanies an exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, contains a biographical essay and a catalogue of about one hundred designs for textiles, wallpaper, and other interior furnishings by Wheeler and her associates.
Director's Foreword
Acknowledgments
Lenders to the Exhibition

Candace Wheeler: A Life in Art and Business
Amelia Peck

Catalogue
Carol Irish

Appendix: The Materials and Techniques of Candace Wheeler's Textiles
Elena Phipps

Candace Wheeler: A Chronology
Bibliography
Index
Photograph Credits


Amelia Peck is Associate Curator in the Department of American Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Carol Irish is Research Assistant in the Department of American Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.



Choice Reviews Online
"… Scholarly and richly illustrated …"
Design Issues
"If I could recommend just one resource on Candace Wheeler to a colleague or a student, it would be Amelia Peck and Carol Irish's catalogue … In just 276 meticulously researched and sumptuously illustrated pages, this book … features the definitive biographical essay on Wheeler and an excellent catalogue raisonné … Peck and Irish's catalogue boasts many admirable features that set it apart from previous works on Wheeler, including … a convincing argument about her importance that grows out of (rather than being imposed upon) the evidence. Candace Wheeler: The Art and Enterprise of American Design, 1875–1900 is an exemplary work that is sure to be the standard reference work on Wheeler for many years to come."


Candace Wheeler: The Art and Enterprise of American Design, 1875–1900