For six days in March, the
historic Park Avenue Armory will be transformed into a glorious display of
color and design when the American Folk Art Museum presents
Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and
White Quilts. More than 650 red and white American textiles, the
largest quilt exhibition ever presented in New York City, are on loan from
Joanna Rose, a private New York collector. Open free to the public, this
extraordinary assemblage will be dramatically installed in the Armory's
55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall from March 25 to March 30, 2011.
The American Folk Art Museum is
taking another important step in expanding and reaching new audiences.
Through this exhibition and related educational programming the museum
continues to augment its core mission and develop new ways of attracting
visitors. Since admission to the quilt exhibition is free, it represents a
special gift to the people of New York City and beyond," comments Maria Ann Conelli, executive director, American Folk Art Museum.
I am also pleased to announce
another significant gift. The collector has generously decided to donate a
number of quilts to the museum. Fifty of the most beautiful and historically
significant quilts will be selected by our curators," continues Ms. Conelli.
This superb collection is
astonishing not only because of the sheer number of red and white textiles
but also because no two are exactly alike. Spanning three hundred years,
the designs range from dazzling optical effects to fanciful mazes to dynamic
zigzag lightning bolts. The patterns are appliquéd
or pieced in red on a white ground or white on a red background. The
exhibition is organized by guest curator Elizabeth V. Warren, a leading
authority on quilts and trustee of the American Folk Art Museum, and Stacy
C. Hollander, project director and the museum's senior curator.
It is an honor to be involved
with this amazing exhibition and it will be a pleasure to select examples of
the quilts for the museum's permanent collection. We have known that many
red and white quilts were made during the nineteenth and the beginning of
the twentieth centuries, but this large collection allows us to study a much
longer period of creativity using this color scheme and a much wider scope
of design than was ever envisioned," says Ms. Warren. Research on the
collection is ongoing and plans are to produce a book and arrange a
worldwide traveling exhibition.
The innovative and exciting
display of the 650 quilts in the Armory space has been created by the
award-winning New York City exhibition design firm Thinc Design. Defying
gravity, the quilts appear to spiral in mid-air filling the enormous volume
of the Drill Hall and creating circular pavilions that invite visitors to
experience the quilts in a three-dimensional environment. Highlighted quilts
will be arranged on viewing platforms for closer appreciation. Incorporated
into the floor-to-ceiling design will be strategically placed benches and
ottomans. A cafe
and Museum Shop will be available.
The exhibition will be
accompanied by a complement of daily educational events and programs for
adults and children that will be informative and appealing to experienced
quilters, passionate collectors, and all those interested in art, design,
folk art, Americana, and American history.
Super Stars: Quilts from
The exhibition “Super Stars”
illuminates one theme in the textile masterpieces
being displayed this year from their collection.
November 16, 2010 - September 25, 2011
"Quiltmakers have always sought inspiration from
the world around them, introducing the outdoors into the domestic interior
through bedcovers that may reflect the colors of the landscape, the imagery
of flowers in a garden, or animal and insect life. Stars, some of the most
important elements of the natural world, are also a beloved and enduring
motif in American quilts. Stars appeared in pieced bedcovers as early as the
eighteenth century and remain popular with quilt artists today. Their
ethereal light has guided nighttime travelers on sea and on land; their
faraway presence has become the stuff of dreams when pieced, appliquéd, or
embroidered into the form of a quilt. “Super Stars” highlights the dazzling
diversity of this variable pattern as interpreted through more than one
hundred years of quilt artistry.” Stacy C. Hollander, Senior Curator.
Major support for programs and exhibitions at the museum’s branch location
at Lincoln Square is provided by Joyce Berger Cowin.
Learn much more about stars seen on quilts and
how they changed through time, from Stacy Hollander:
from the American Folk Art Museum
An impressive and comprehensive
collection of glorious quilts
on display at the main museum
The first installment is on view
from: October 5, 2010 to April 24, 2011,
and the second from May 10 to October 16,
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.
includes all the primary forms
from Tree of Life, a 1796
elaborately stuffed and corded whitework to
More is More, a 1996
quilt artist Paula Nadelstern. Displaying examples from the major
quiltmaking traditions, there are whole cloth, chintz, signature and album
quilts; appliqué and log cabin quilts; Victorian "show" quilts; Amish
quilts; Colonial revival and "kit" quilts; African American quilts; and
Among the quilts on
exhibition for the first time are
Slashed Star Quilt, featuring an unusual design motif;
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 appliquéd 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.
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.
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.
illustrated, full-color book, QUILTS,
written by Ms. Warren, with a foreword
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.
Elizabeth Warren writes more about the history of quilts and the Masterpiece
American Folk Art Museum
45 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019, 212/265-1040