A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs Of Dorothy Liebes

7 Jul 2023 – 4 Feb 2024

Regular hours

10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 21:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00
10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

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Designer and weaver Dorothy Liebes (1897–1972), who introduced handcraft and brilliant color to the modern interior, was among the most influential designers of the 20th century.


The “Liebes Look”—which combined vivid color, lush texture, and often a glint of metallic—became inextricably linked with the American modern aesthetic. Liebes collaborated with the most prominent architects and designers of the mid-20th century, shaping American tastes in areas from interiors to transportation and industrial design, fashion, and film, and worked with dozens of U.S. firms to make her fabrics available at affordable prices. Despite widespread recognition during her lifetime, the details of her long and productive career are largely unknown. This exhibition will establish for the first time the full scope of her contributions as a designer, collaborator, mentor, public figure, and tireless promoter of American modernism.

A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes is made possible by The Coby Foundation; The Decorative Arts Trust; the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, a program of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum; and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

The project received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.

Generous support is provided by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation; the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation; Mergentime Family Archive; and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, administered by the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation.

Support is also provided by Elizabeth Whelan, The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, and Patsy Orlofsky.

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Dorothy Liebes


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