Les Mondes du Travail cover

Mabb, David. 2023. Les Mondes du Travail cover. [Design]

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Abstract or Description

Luibov Popova Untitled Textile Design on William Morris wallpaper for Historical Materialism is a print commissioned as a fundraiser for the journal Historical Materialism in 2010 by David Mabb.

William Morris the socialist, writer, poet and designer (1834 – 1896), thought that interior design had a fundamental role to play in the transformation of everyday life. His hand printed textile and wallpaper designs are highly schematised representations of nature, where it is always summer and never winter; the plants are always in leaf, often flowering, with their fruits available in abundance, ripe for picking, and with no human labour in sight. This is a utopian vision, an image of Cokaygne, the medieval mythical land of plenty, but easily acceptable to the upper middle classes and even some aristocrats of his time. Today his work is very safe and comfortable, and his wallpaper and fabric designs are widely reproduced in machine printed form. During 1923-24 shortly after the Russian revolution, the Constructivist artist and designer Luibov Popova (1889 – 1924) designed textiles for the First State Cotton-Printing Factory in Moscow. Popova along with her comrade Varvara Stepanova designed simple bold geometric patterns in black and primary colours, often with optical effects, which were printed for mass distribution.
In the prints reproduced here, one of Popova’s textile designs in red and black is screen-printed onto different contemporary machine printed Morris & Co. wallpapers, including well known Morris designs such as Fruit, Willow Boughs, Trellis and Daisy and May Morris’ Honeysuckle. Although Popova’s Constructivist designs arose in a different geographical and historical context, and are visually very different from Morris’ designs, both artists produced them as part out of a commitment to the transformation of everyday life. In the prints, the separate designs come together to create a dialogue where the Popova and the Morris designs ‘radicalise’ each other, revivifying the political content of each to suggest an emergent transformation of the world.

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25 March 2023

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27 Mar 2023 08:29

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27 Mar 2023 08:29



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