Ruth Reeves - Artist & Textile designer 1892-1966
25 October 2019
Have you ever heard of the work of Ruth Reeves? She is much better known in the US than in the UK, which is a shame as she did some wonderful pieces and had such an interesting life - she deserves to be better known. Scroll down to see her work and read about her...
Ruth Reeves studied painting at Pratt in San Francisco and then went to Paris, where she was taught by Fernand Léger. While there she was was very influenced by artist Raoul Dufy, (which may be one of the reasons I like her work so much) and also by Sonia Delaunay - both these artists were friends with Léger. Reeves was inspired by stories and ordinary lives and did quite a few textile design in the 1930s, including a series of home furnishings textiles - including rugs for Radio City Music Hall (1932), commissioned by Donald Deskey.
She really believed that textile design should be elevated to an art form, arguing that as an element of human surroundings, textiles are as important as good architecture and more closely associated with our everyday lives than paintings. I thoroughly agree. She was also an expert in Guatemalan textiles after travelling there as a Carnegie research fellow to study in the 1930s and again in the 1940s on a Guggenheim grant.
Also in the 1930s Reeves worked for the WPA on 'The Index of American Design' which hired artists to produce documentary illustrations of popular & decorative art that American designers could consult in their search for an authentic American design language.
In her lifetime Ruth Reeves’s work was exhibited widely including at the Brooklyn Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She died in India where she lived and worked & she left a huge collection of Indian folk art (she'd also written books about processes used to make some of these) to the Syracuse University Art Museum.
Pieces from the 1930's
In this following ones you can really see the Raoul Dufy influence....
This one is called Manhattan...
And a NY worlds fair scarf from 1938-39. I'm obsessed by worlds fairs so love it.