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Episodes from an Unwritten History: Claude Bragdon & Fritz Trautmann

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Design for Decorative Lighting

16 1/2 x 11 5/8 in. (41.9 x 29.5 cm)

Claude Fayette Bragdon
United States (Oberlin, OH, 1866 - 1946, New York, NY)

Object Type: Drawing
Medium and Support: India Ink on thin board
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1944.7
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

As an architect, Bragdon had long been frustrated by the lack of a modern architectural ornament style free from cultural and historical associations. Like philosophers and artists before him, he sought a sacred geometry of cosmic significance and harmonious design. In his 1915 book Projective Ornament he outlined a universal system of design based on numbers and geometry abstracted from nature. Bragdon’s mystical beliefs influenced his use of the fourth dimension in creating his ornament. He believed in the fourth dimension as a mystical hyperspace that explained some of the mysteries of life and the afterlife. Bragdon based his new ornamental style on a complex system of projecting and manipulating two-dimensional shapes such as squares and triangles into four-dimensional shapes such as tesseracts and pentahedroids.

Claude Bragdon was a prolific writer who often illustrated his books with his own projective ornament designs. This design begins the chapter “The Eternal Feminine” in Old Lamps for New: The Ancient Wisdom in the Modern World (1925). Bragdon envisioned projective ornament as a universal design system for all facets of life from architectural environments to book jackets, from clothing to lamps.

[Gallery label text, 2010]

Artist's signature, lower right: Claude Bragdon, written on top of "Return to Claude Bragdon, The Shelton, New York"

Inscription, lower left: Design for Decorative Lighting

The artist; purchased from him by the Gallery in March 1944

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Episodes from an Unwritten History: Claude Bragdon & Fritz Trautmann Brochure accompanying an exhibition at the Memorial Art Gallery from August 13-December 12, 2010.

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