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Drawing (USA)

This is a drawing. It was designed by Irene Sharaff. It is dated 1958 and we acquired it in 1990. Its medium is brush and watercolor, graphite on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

During her illustrious career spanning five decades, Irene Sharaff designed costumes for over 20 ballets, 30 movies, and 60 Broadway productions, including The King and I (1951), On Your Toes (1954), and West Side Story (1957). On the occasion of the first exhibition of her costume drawings at the Wright/Hepburn/Webster Gallery in London and New York in 1970, she said, "Every creative person has a leitmotif, a logo, a signature of himself. I suppose mine is associated with the colors I prefer—red, pink, oranges—and with a certain cut which seems to reappear in many of the shows and films I've worked on." Her drawing, Figure in Orientalizing Costume, displays her preferred colors and her penchant for eastern dress. Irene Sharaff is credited with introducing Thai silks in this country in connection with her work for The King and I. If added to CHM collections, this drawing would represent, with Oliver Smith's set design for Flower Drum Song, Broadway in the 1950s, when plays with oriental themes dominated theatrical productions. Though not yet identified with a particular show, the drawing under consideration may be an early thought for The King and I or more possibly for Shangri-La (958).

This object was donated by John Gregory. It is credited Gift of John Gregory.

Cite this object as

Drawing (USA); Designed by Irene Sharaff ; brush and watercolor, graphite on paper; Gift of John Gregory; 1990-121-2

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18633761/ |title=Drawing (USA) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=30 September 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>