3 Min Lesezeit
Gemustertes Kleid aus dem Besitz von Berta Rudofsky, genäht aus einem in Reservetechnik gefärbten Baumwollstoff, nach 1960
© MAK/Branislav Djordjevic
Gio Ponti für JSA, Stoffmuster Balletto Alla Scala auf Baumwolle, um 1950
© MAK/Branislav Djordjevic und Gio Ponti Archives/Salvatore Licitra
Textil mit Spiegelstickerei aus dem Besitz der Rudofskys (möglicherweise ein Toran-Fragment), vermutl. Gujarat (Indien), erste Hälfte 20. Jh.
© MAK/Branislav Djordjevic

Many people are familiar with Bernard Rudofsky (1905-1988) as the author of books such as “Sparta/Sybaris. No new way of building, a new way of living is needed” or exhibitions at MoMA such as “Are Clothes Modern?” and “Architecture without Architects”. Less well known is the joint life of the Viennese Berta Rudofsky ( born Doctor, 1910 to 2006) and the Moravian-born architect, designer and cultural theorist, who left traces in Bernard Rudofsky’s oeuvre and in which he drew inspiration from his wife in many ways. Under the title “Textile Objects from the Berta and Bernard Rudofsky Collection”, a presentation at the MAK Forum from 4 October to 26 November will, according to the announcement, “trace parallels and differences between Berta’s personal wardrobe and Bernard’s designs and theories”. As part of the series “Collecting in Focus”, a selection of textiles will be shown that “The Bernard Rudofsky Estate Vienna” donated to the Museum of Applied Arts from Berta Rudofsky’s estate, as well as pieces that the MAK acquired in the 1990s.

While Bernard, according to the museum, was in the public eye throughout his life and was successful as an exhibition maker and designer, cultural and fashion theorist, and textile, sandal and fashion designer, Berta worked in the background for her husband – for example as an editor, translator and manager, and as a model. Berta and Bernard met on Capri in 1934 and lived most of the time in Italy. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Rudofsky travelled with his wife to Geneva and from there to Latin America by sea via Trieste. They then lived for six months in Rio de Janeiro, then in São Paulo. Between 1939 and 1940, two of Rudofsky’s most important buildings were created there, the Casa Frontini and the Casa Arnstein. As one of the Brazilian winners of the Organic Design Competition (1941) announced by the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Rudofsky travelled to New York. The city remained his cultural home until his death in 1988. Berta realised her husband’s textile ideas and was responsible for the production of the so-called “Bernardo Sandals”, which were published in American Vogue in the 1960s and worn by Jackie Kennedy, among others. The sandals were intended to literally “free” the foot and were produced following the legendary first fashion exhibition at the New York MoMA – “Are Clothes Modern?”- curated by Bernard Rudofsky in 1944.

In the 1930s, Bernard had worked, among other things, for the magazine “Domus”, founded by Gio Ponti, and together with Ponti designed an (unrealised) hotel project for Capri as well as matching clothing for the guests. A textile design by Gio Ponti entitled “Balletto Alla Scala” (around 1950) illustrates the friendship in the exhibition. A small selection of textiles, by Berta as well as a series of crochet and knotted patterns made in São Paulo, intended as decoration for interiors, are examples from the time in Brazil. Two garments made for Berta in Vienna in the 1930s are evidence of Bernard Rudofsky’s first fashion creations. The “separates”, women’s fashions made in the early 1950s according to Rudofsky’s ideas, were based on simple shapes such as that of the rectangle. Around the same time, Rudofsky designed typewritten fabric patterns for the US company “Schiffer Prints”. The so-called “Bareskins” show how Rudofsky – a supporter of free body culture – went against the convention of covering the human body for reasons of modesty. A mirror embroidery from the Indian state of Gujarat, together with pieces from Japan, refers to the cosmopolitan lifestyle of the Rudofskys.


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