Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Amish Abstractions

Collector: Faith and Stephen Brown
Museum: de Young Museum
Exhibition Dates: November 14, 2009 — June 6, 2010

"On first encountering Amish quilts, the Browns recall, “We were amazed by the bold graphics and striking colors, the very opposite of what we had expected. And we couldn’t get over the way some quilts seemed to anticipate abstract artists such as Josef Albers, Victor Vasarely, Frank Stella, Mark Rothko, Sol LeWitt, and Ellsworth Kelly, among others.” Looking at modern art has prepared us to appreciate their bold designs yet we should not look upon the quilts as simply works of art. They were made to be both aesthetically pleasing and utilitarian and, yet, still had to adhere to the code of the Ordung, an oral tradition of religious rules governing Amish social customs and moral life. The Amish dislike of “worldliness” meant that they rejected figurative or elaborate floral design elements in favor of large geometric color fields. But their skill is always in view – the tiny precise stitches, intersecting the geometric squares in unwavering and complex quilting curves. The rich palate of saturated colors mirrors the restrictions placed on the order of clothes but is all the stronger for that. There is visual wit and whimsy within the boundaries laid down by their religious beliefs; the work is neither boringly rigid or lifelessly formal."
via The Examiner

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