Textiles in Art - The Quilts of Gee's Bend

Textiles in Art  - The Quilts of Gee's Bend
Until September 2005 there was an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY called, "Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams - His Art and His Textiles." Matisse was said to have collected fabrics that became backdrops for some of his paintings. For example, an Ottoman striped silk robe (displayed in the exhibit) is worn by the model in "Purple Robe and Anemones" (loaned from The Baltimore Museum of Art).

From February 12-27, 2005 one could see an example of Installation art, "The Gates," by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. They displayed 7,503 "gates" made from saffron colored fabric, in Central Park, NY. This was a great example of public art, however temporary, that brightened an otherwise dreary February in NY.

A marvelous exhibit I recently viewed at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston was, "The Quilts of Gee’s Bend." Shown publicly for the first time, these quilts were made as utilitarian objects by the women of Gee’s Bend, a remote area in Alabama.

Considered "Minimalism," these quilts were made from cotton denim, mattress ticking, corduroy, wool trousers, and turned into beautiful works of art. For example, "Work Clothes Quilt With Center Medallion of Stripes," by Annie Mae Young, reminds me of an interpretation of the American flag. These quilts appear as three dimensional as other modern paintings in the MFA collection.
Take for example, Stuart Davis’ "Hot Still-Scapes for Six Colors - Seventh Avenue Style" (1940). This painting also contains vibrant colors and was influenced by nature.

In conclusion, textiles constantly surround us in our world. By the clothes we wear and the way we decorate our homes. Let us celebrate the beauty of fabric as it relates to art!

I was thrilled to see the "Quilts of Gee's Bend" on the 39 cents U.S. postage stamp. Be sure to buy a book today so you too can enjoy the beauty of these textiles made in the U.S.A.

The quilt made by Annie Mae Young was one of my favorites and adorns the book, "The Quilts of Gee’s Bend: Masterpieces From a Lost Place." A truly fascinating story and an example of the art of America’s South.


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