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An Impressive and Comprehensive Collection of Glorious Quilts Celebrate the "Year of the Quilt"
Double Wedding Ring Quilt. Artist unidentified. Probably Georgia, 1930 - 1940. Cotton, 86 1?4 x 72". Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of Robert Bishop, 1993.4.19. Photograph by Gavin Ashworth, New York.
NEW YORK, NY.- The artistry of America's quilt heritage will be highlighted in the "Year of the Quilt"— an unprecedented twelve-month-long series of exhibitions, special events, and educational programming focusing on the creative contributions of three centuries of talented women. The exhibition QUILTS: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum is presented in two parts. The first installment is on view from October 5, 2010 to April 24, 2011, and the second from May 10 to October 16, 2011.

QUILTS features dazzling textiles from the museum's impressive and comprehensive collection. Characterized by a mastery of design, extraordinary color combinations, and innovative use of fabrics, these quilts reflect a spirit and energy that make them uniquely American. The exhibition focuses on the visual power and historic importance of this artistic tradition and the many skillful women who gave it shape.

Selected by guest curator Elizabeth V. Warren, each quilt was chosen as a glorious example of its time, style, and technique. The inaugural presentation brings together approximately 35 major quilts drawn from the museum's holdings, some of which are significant new acquisitions and are on view for the first time. Also included are "old favorites," the recognized cornerstones of the collection, as well as several quilts that have rarely been exhibited. They will be installed on three floors of the museum.

A lavishly illustrated, full-color book written by Ms. Warren, with a foreword by Martha Stewart, and published by Rizzoli in association with the American Folk Art Museum accompanies the two-part exhibition. The book documents the 200 most important examples from the museum's esteemed collection.

The American Folk Art Museum has played an unparalleled role in advocating for quilts and broadening the discourse of this form within the larger picture of American art. In 1996, the first complete catalog of the museum's quilt collection was published. Glorious American Quilts: The Quilt Collection of the Museum of American Folk Art, written by Elizabeth V. Warren and Sharon L. Eistenstat, counted 398 quilts in the museum's holdings at that time. In the years since, the collection has grown in importance and breadth. Almost one hundred prominent quilts have entered the collection, very few of which have, up until now, been on public view, written about, or reproduced in print.

"Textiles were among the most valued family possessions until well into the nineteenth century. Based on the rarity of the fabrics, the fine workmanship, and their well-preserved condition, it is clear that most of the historic quilts in the museum's collection are examples of "best" bedcovers, saved for use on special occasions or when company visited," notes Ms. Warren.

The museum's preeminent collection includes all the primary forms and designs, from Tree of Life, a 1796 elaborately stuffed and corded whitework to More is More, a 1996 kaleidoscope quilt by renowned quilt artist Paula Nadelstern. Displaying examples from the major quiltmaking traditions, there are whole cloth, chintz, signature and album quilts; appliquÈ and log cabin quilts; Victorian "show" quilts; Amish quilts; Colonial revival and "kit" quilts; African American quilts; and contemporary quilts.

Among the quilts on exhibition for the first time are Slashed Star Quilt, featuring an unusual design motif; Log Cabin Quilt, Courthouse Steps Variation; Pieced Quilt, one of the many special bedcovers from Cyril I. Nelson's gift; Sunflowers and Vine Border, an early 19th century pieced and appliquÈd quilt; and a group of doll quilts. Two noteworthy bedcovers of great beauty and historical importance that have rarely been exhibited are the Reiter Family Album Quilt and the Hewson Center Quilt with Multiple Border.

Several iconic quilts—such as the Bird of Paradise, the Harlequin Medallion Quilt, Double Wedding Ring, and the Flag Quilt—demonstrate the quality and range of the collection.

"It is important to consider each quilt in the context of the time and place in which it was made. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when quilts were no longer needed for warmth, quiltmakers used the art form to express their creativity. Some did so within the confines of popular decorating trends, including the Aesthetic movement and the Colonial Revival styles. Contemporary quilt artists have the opportunity to transcend time and place, using the historical concept of a quilt as a starting point for their artistic, and often social and political statements," comments Elizabeth Warren.

On view at the museum's Lincoln Square Branch is the sparkling exhibition Super Stars: Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum (November 16, 2010-September 25, 2011) featuring textiles in star patterns in approximately 20 exciting variations.

American Folk Art Museum | Elizabeth V. Warren | New York | "Year of the Quilt" |


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