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Textile, Van Gogh by Althea McNish

Textile design from the 1950s by Althea McNish

Pictured above--intentional textile design. Earthy, supple. A screen-printed cotton plain weave.


Textile, Van Gogh (designed late 1950s), by Trinidadian artist and designer, Althea McNish, who achieved international recognition in the 1950s and onward for her colorful furnishing and fashion fabrics that often depicted the tropical landscape of her homeland.

In March 2024, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum opened an exhibition titled "Acquired! Shaping the National Design Collection." The exhibit explores how the museum acquires new works to ensure the collection reflects contemporary issues and design's evolving role in our lives.

Located on the second floor, the exhibition will feature over 150 objects. These include pieces that represent the museum's established collecting focus, alongside recent acquisitions (since 2017) that demonstrate the museum's expanded vision of what design encompasses today.

The collection is currently organized into five curatorial departments: Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design; Product Design and Decorative Arts; Wallcoverings; Textiles; and the newest department, Digital Design. New acquisitions not only showcase aesthetic value and technical skill, but also address themes of social responsibility, racial and social justice, the digital age's influence, and the climate crisis's impact on our lives.

I'll feature a few more pieces next week. There's a gorgeous yellow phone designed by Genaro in the 1930s. I can't wait share.

Photo Credit:

Designed late 1950s; printed early 1960s

Designed by Althea McNish (British, born Trinidad, 1924–2020)

Manufactured by Hull Traders, Ltd. (UK)

Screen-printed cotton plain weave

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund, 2021-1-2

Photo by Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution




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