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13 September 2023

Austrian-American fashion and design history told with fashion of Berta Rudofsky, wife and working partner of architect, designer, cultural theorist Bernard Rudofsky at MAK show from 4 October

The Museum of Applied Arts Vienna is known for its design collections, including textile objects such as fashion. Among the highlights of the MAK's textile collection are garments by Berta Rudofsky, the wife and working partner of the architect, designer and cultural theorist Bernard Rudofsky. Both had strong ties to Vienna - Berta was born as Berta Doctor in Vienna in 1910, and her husband, who was born in Moravia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1905, went to school in Vienna and completed his architecture studies here in the late 1920s. The couple spent most of their lives in the United States, where, for example, the 'Bernardo Sandals' - designed in the 1940s, were featured in US Vogue in the 1960s and worn by Jackie Kennedy, among others.

It's announced that the exhibition will show with fashion pieces the life course of Berta and Bernard Rudofsky, who traveled the world for exhibitions, design and architecture projects, as well as university teaching. Special emphasis will be placed on exploring how Berta's wardrobe and Bernard's designs and theories intersect and diverge.

The exhibition is curated by Lara Steinhäußer, custodian of the MAK Textiles and Carpets Collection, whose lecture 'Architecture and Fashion' in the winter semester 2022/23 at the Institute for Art History at the University of Vienna inspired a text published as a blog entry on the MAK website at about the theoretical work 'Are clothes modern?' by Bernard Rudofsky from 1947, named after the 1944 exhibition on fashion curated by Bernard Rudofsky at the MoMA in New York. The text gives a foretaste of topics that can be expected in the exhibition, referring to nudist supporter Bernard Rudosky's questions such as why people wear clothes, investigating the reasons behind the continuously changing fashion trends, and Rudofsky's thoughts about simplifying the construction of a cut for a garment made from a single piece of fabric.

Image: The picture shows a dress from the possessions of Berta Rudofsky, sewn from a synthetic textile of the company Apsco Fabrics, probably from the 1960s. It will be shown in the exhibition 'FOCUS ON COLLECTING 10. Textile Objects from the Berta and Bernard Rudofsky Collection' at the MAK in Vienna from 4 October until 26 November 2023. Photo: © MAK/Branislav Djordjevic.

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