It always excites me to see a “new” line of artist fabric. This one comes by way of etsy seller, Special Somethings, and is quite interesting. The artist is Anton Refregier, who was born in Russia and came to the US in the 1920s. He is best known for his WPA murals, and he gained notoriety in the 1950s when the McCarthy-era Congress investigated the series of murals he did for a California post office. Though it was claimed the the murals “defamed pioneers and reflected negatively on California’s past,” they were eventually allowed to stay in the public space.
This fabric celebrates the early American artist and craftsperson, with not a touch of defaming and negativity. It most likely dates to the early 1950s, though I’ve really not been able to find this exact collaboration in any of my sources. Refregier was a member of the Associated American Artists, and through them he designed a very similar piece, called “Pioneer Pathways,” for Riverdale Manufacturing. He also produced works for M. Lowenstein and Sons in 1952.
This particular fabric is printed in the selvage “ Designed by Anton Refregier, Permel Plus, A CoFab Co, Guaranteed Vat Print, Preshrunk.” I’m not at all familiar with CoFabCo, but I did find the trademark registration for Permel Plus. It was a water-proofing fabric treatment, and was owned by American Cyanamid, a chemical company. The trademark dates to 1951.
Though this fabric is not mentioned in it, there is a new book out titled Artists’ Textiles 1940 – 1976, by Geiff Rayner, Richard Chamberlain and Annamarie Phelps. It was recommended to me by a reader here, lemur178, and is a great resource for those of you interested in the many artist/fabric maker collaborations.
And as always, I would appreciate any information on the textiles of Anton Refregier.