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Color Decoded: The Textiles of Richard Landis

  • Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum 2 East 91st Street New York, NY, 10128 United States (map)

Color Decoded: The Textiles of Richard Landis

Color Decoded: The Textiles of Richard Landis celebrates the recent acquisition of six of Landis’s most important works for Cooper Hewitt’s collection, installed together with three process drawings and 13 more of Landis’s textiles, and all produced between 1967 and 1995. The drawings demonstrate how Landis would calculate and visualize every permutation possible within a defined set of colors. While the actual weaving could be completed in days, it sometimes took Landis a month or more to work out the full range of tones and hues on paper, design the geometric pattern, and prepare the loom to weave the cloth.  Using his preferred weave structure—double-cloth—Landis would simultaneously weave two parallel planes of fabric,  a technique that allowed for the creation of the multicolored complex patterning of his textiles. The remarkable intricacy, dynamism, and luminosity found in works such as Campo di Fiori (1976), Untitled (1982), and Nines (1995) show a designer working at the height of his creative powers.

Richard Landis (American, born 1931) is a master weaver who pursued a nearly lifelong investigation of pattern and color. His double-cloth textiles are complex systems of closely related full-tones and half-tones of color, organized into abstract geometries of endless variation. In Landis’s weavings, small, medium, and large rectangles and squares repeat in ever-changing order, and every possible color combination is played out both horizontally and vertically. What appears to be a random arrangement of colored squares is a balanced and controlled expression of a well-modulated palette.


Mercerized cotton double weave 46.4 × 30.8 cm (18 1/4 × 12 1/8 in.) Courtesy of the Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution