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Out & About: American Modernism at The Whitney

We visited The Whitney Museum in New York to view At the Dawn of a New Age: Early Twentieth-Century American Modernism. The exhibit showcases art produced between 1900 and 1930 by well known American modernists and explores how these artists ’embraced the new over the traditional’. We were struck by how some of these artworks are reminiscent of our interior schemes. Not only because of the similar colour palettes, but also the shapes and stories the exhibit’s pieces represent. Join us as we share our favourite comparisons from this outing…

Ben Benn – Cowboy and Horse, 1917

Oil on canvas, overall: 27 1/4 × 22 1/8in. (69.2 × 56.2 cm)

Ben Benn’s ‘Cowboy and Horse’ instantly transported us to room 1408 at The Whitby Hotel. Our statement headboard by Kumi features a horse and acts as the room’s focal point, similar to Benn’s painting. The layered effect of his tree branches echo the headboard’s intricate applique work. Aside from the shapes and textured effects, the colours used in the painting are a perfect match for room 1408’s bold and sophisticated scheme.

E.E. Cummings – Noise Number 13, 1925

Oil on canvas, overall: 59 5/8 × 42 3/4in. (151.4 × 108.6 cm)

EE Cummings’ ‘Noise Number 13’ is a riot of swirling rosettes and squiggling ribbons in a variety of tropical colours. This painting reminded us of room 215 at Covent Garden Hotel with its layered flowers and leaves falling in all directions. The patchwork backcloth of room 215’s headboard is similar to the abstract combination of shapes that ground the painting. Hot reds, greens, and blues with just a hint of yellow make a winning combination that will heighten a scheme’s energy.

Blanche Lazzell – Four Boats, 1919

Printed in 1925. Woodcut, 13 1/8 × 12 5/8 in. (33.3 × 32.1 cm) (sheet), 11 × 11 1/2 in. (27.9 × 29.2 cm)

Blanche Lazzell’s ‘Four Boats’ contains the early autumnal colours that bring us to room 503 at The Whitby Hotel. Both the painting and room 503 remind us of the early days of autumn, when leaves present glorious shades of gold and orange. Although the story in the painting isn’t reflected in room 503, the swooping shapes of the boat figures share a similar effect to the dancing leaves and vines on the headboard.

Marsden Hartley – Number 5, 1914–1915

Oil on linen, overall: 39 1/4 × 32in. (99.7 × 81.3 cm)

Marsden Hartley’s ‘Number 5’ painting strikes a familiar chord to The Crimson Bar at The Soho Hotel. The squiggling lines and spirals are reminiscent of The Crimson Bar’s fun and funky fabric on the walls. We love how Hartley’s painting also mixes moody black tones with primary colours to create an eclectic and striking scene.

Arthur Dove – Plant Forms, c. 1912

Pastel on canvas, 17 1/4 × 23 7/8 × 1 1/4 in. (43.8 × 60.6 × 3.2 cm)

Arthur Dove’s ‘Plant Forms’ made us feel like we were at The Whitby Hotel with room 1003’s headboard. The shapes and colours in Raoul Dufy’s La Foret fabric for Christopher Farr are strikingly similar to Dove’s painting. It’s as if Duffy has just turned up the brightness!

We found so much inspiration at The Whitney Museum. Perhaps you’ll base your next interior scheme or design around a favourite painting! Explore our other sources for ideas with our blog post: How We Find Our Inspiration

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