Art Deco Hooked Rug (attrib. Ralph Pearson)

Circa 1925
North America
238 cm x 180 cm
7'9" x 5'10"

A finely-worked Art Deco Hooked Rug distinguished by an explosive pattern of stunning beauty. Art Deco and Modernist patterns are very rarely encountered in this medium. As a very small artisanal production began during the Colonial Revival period, Ralph Pearson was the first to develop this, based on his conviction that hooked rugs offered an ideal canvas for Modernist design. Pearson taught at Elverhoj, a community entirely devoted to the Arts & Crafts philosophy. He encouraged artists to express their creativity through the applied arts. In the early 1920’s, he inaugurated the New England Guild, a design workshop based in Portland, Maine. He was soon producing hooked rugs designed by local professional artists. His headquarters were in New York, which allowed him access to many of the artists and architects who produced some of the most significant works of the period.

The exceptional dynamism of this example is achieved by mastering the hooked technique, where contrasting densities are woven together in clever colourations, resulting in a three-dimensional composition of sublime character. The centrifugal energy exuded by the pattern is reminiscent of the futuristic vision of artists such as Umberto Boccioni (‘The City Rises’,1910) or the frantic rhythms of cinematic masterpieces like Fritz Lang’s ’Metropolis’ (1927), both conveying the incessantly driving pulse that characterises Modernism. Artworks such as this piece are representative of the enormous ingenuity of American designers during the Art Deco era.

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