Published: October 23, 2001
Exuberant Americana on Display in Manhattan:
NEW YORK CITY – Continuing a tradition of giving art a prominent place in its properties’ public spaces, The Durst Organization will brighten up the holiday season with an exhibition of American master quilts – classic and contemporary — in three of its major midtown office buildings. L.L. Powers is curator and exhibition organizer for Durst.
The installations will be on display from November 29 through January 31 in the buildings’ lobbies. The quilts, from the Nineteenth Century through the present, explore the progression of quilting from its utilitarian origins to today’s contemporary, edgy and aware art form.
The collection “Ecstatic Geometries,” quilts from the Nineteenth Century, will be on display at 1155 Avenue of the Americas; 1133 Avenue of the Americas will house “Quilts Beyond the Rules;” and the Condé Nast building at 4 Times Square will feature “Quilts Now: Old Medium, Modern Message.” An exhibition catalogue will be available.
“We wanted warmth to match holiday sentiments, something different from our regular art exhibitions,” says Powers. “The quilting tradition in America has produced a heritage of brilliant artistic accomplishment that is unencumbered with the pretenses of high art. Traditional quilters have left us a legacy of aesthetic exploration that, although based on the decorative and the utilitarian, in retrospect, has entered the pantheon of ‘high art’ through the back door.”
This quilting tradition ranges from the elegant austerity of Amish minimalists through the “log cabin” and “tumbling block” patterns of the 19th century to the witty and extremely personal abstractions of the “crazy quilt.”
The contemporary “edgy” approach will be on display in the Condé Nast rdf_Descriptions, which will be “comment quilts,” where the artists use the medium to react to and comment on the world they’re living in.
“Contemporary art is no longer so constrained in its approach to materials and process,” Powers explains, “and the rich territory of ‘folk art’ is regularly mined by artists seeking to escape the traditional conventions of painting.”
Eleanor Bingham Miller, co-curator, adds, “Because of the historical constraints on women as artists, quilting became an outlet that was both socially acceptable and successful as an avenue for self expression.”
Powers, along with Shelly Zegart, one of the foremost authorities in the quilting field, and Miller, a prominent quilt collector and patron of the arts from Louisville, KY, organized the exhibits with the assistance of The Alliance for American Quilts.
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