Henriette Reiss

Henriette Reiss was born on May 5, 1889 in Liverpool, England, second of the three children of Hans Bernhard Lüthy and his wife, Carey (Caroline-Françoise, née Guérin). Hans Lüthy was a successful Swiss corn broker and a patron of the arts. When Henriette was eleven, the family moved back to Switzerland and settled in Vevey. Henriette was fluent in English, French, and German. She studied painting, sculpture, and design in Munich, as well as in Basel and Liverpool. In 1912 she married Winold Reiss, a painter and fellow student at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich. In 1913 they decided to emigrate to the United States. The marriage ended in divorce in 1923, and Henriette Reiss embarked on her own career in New York City. She established herself as a designer, employing several people in her studio, and became well known for her pioneering, modern textile and rug designs as well as for her book jackets and advertising layouts.

She developed her own method for teaching, the Henriette Reiss Method of Rhythmic Design, and gave courses at numerous institutions; for seven years she conducted special Rhythmic Design classes for teachers, under the auspices of the New York City Board of Education. In 1938 she went back to Europe and stayed for three years, traveling and painting mostly in France and Switzerland. Henriette became a naturalized American citizen and lived in New York City for much of her life; from the late 1940s on, she spent most summers at her house in Woodstock, New York. In 1964, when she was 75, she retired from teaching at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City). She died on July 17, 1992, at the age of 103.

Henriette Reiss had received training in singing in her younger years, and her rhythmic design method was connected to her deep interest in music (and in poetry, which she wrote seriously as well). She expressed this profound love for and understanding of music in many of her paintings and designs. The interpenetration of the two arts, of music and painting, are an important theme in her life's work. She was also gifted as a teacher, and keenly interested in the social and political events of her time. From the 1920s into the 1960s, she exhibited in many museums, institutions, and galleries in the U.S., France, and Switzerland, often signing her paintings "Henri".


Painting, Sculpture, Design: Kunstgewerbeschule, Basel, Switzerland; Kunstgewerbeschule, Munich, Germany; Liverpool School of Fine and Applied Art, Liverpool, England; Heyman Academy, Munich, Germany; private study with Georg Schildknecht, Munich, Germany.

Commissions, Clients and Professional Activites

Textiles: Mosse; Haas Brothers Fabrics Corp.; Goldstein Wilkens & Co.; Finsilver Fabrics Corp.; Clarence Whitman & Sons; Schwarzenbach, Huber & Co.; Pacific Mills; Onondaga Silk Co.; Rockledge Mills; Frank Satz; RH Mallinson; Rugs: Bigelow-Sanford Carpet Co.; Book Jackets: Howard McCann; Doubleday, Page & Co.; Harcourt, Brace & Co.; E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.; Putnam; Cosmopolitan; Scribner's;
Advertising: Cutex Northam Warren Corp.; Save the Surface Paint & Varnish; Film Bureau; Prince Matchabelli; Painting, Drawing, Illustration: oil, tempera, watercolor, black and white.

Academic Career
She developed and taught over a period of forty years the Henriette Reiss Method of Rhythmic Design, as well as general art courses. New York City: Board of Education (special classes in design for supervisors, elementary and high school teachers in all five boroughs); Brooklyn College, School of Education; Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences; The Brooklyn Museum; The Evening Textile High & Trade School; Fashion Institute of Technology; Greenwich House; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Natural History; New York Evening School of Industrial Arts; The Phoenix Art Institute; School Art League of New York; Traphagen School of Fashion; Washington Irving Evening School; West Side Vocation High School. Providence, Rhode Island: Board of Education (classes for teachers).

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