The Amish Quilt or the Art of Thrift | Art-Hop-Polis

The FEU is pleased to present the exhibition The Amish Quilt or the Art of Thrift by Jacques Légeret, which will open on Wednesday, December 5 as part of Art-Hop-Polis. The exhibition will run from December 5 to 21.

In this early part of the 21st century, in the heart of technological America, the Amish still live according to religious rules established in seventeenth-century Europe.  As a result, they refuse certain “benefits” of the modern world: public electricity, the automobile, the radio, TV, etc.  Even today their mother tongue is an archaic Swiss-German, mixed with Alsatian, since the Amish originated from the cantons of Zürich and Bern. Transcending often rigid rules, their strict way of life opened up onto an outpouring of light and color: the Amish quilt (top-stitched patchwork originally used as a cover) has become a major decorative art in the United States.  The triangle, the square, and the diamond are untiringly repeated in concert with the use of cloth scraps in colors so characteristic of Amish clothing. Going beyond the limits of the austere rules of the “Plain people” communities, Amish women managed to create what are sometimes true works of art from a purely utilitarian object.  In addition to top-stitching which is often very elaborate— a genuine “hand-made” signature— what characterizes an Amish quilt is the creation of luminosity derived from colors which are frequently very somber.  These same colors are those found in the clothes which, still today, are entirely made at home in accordance with certain regulations established in the 17th century.  If the Amish did not invent the art of patchwork, they did develop, in an exemplary manner, “the art of salvage.”  Utilizing every little scrap of fabric corresponds perfectly to their way of life which is comprised of modesty, austerity and the absence of competition.  With the aid of quilts gathered from Amish families in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, Jacques and Catherine Légeret will illustrate this “art of frugality” characteristic of their quilts.  Rejecting violence and shunning competition, making a selective choice of modern technology, the Amish form a unique society.  In this regard, their quilts, both traditional and at the same time modern, are the cultural reflection of a society which calls outs to us. – Jacques Légeret, October 2018

About the Collector

A Swiss journalist, Jacques Légeret was “adopted” by an Old Order Amish family in 1986, together with his wife and son David. He has lived, in the course of several trips, around 24 months in Amish families of Pennsylvania and Indiana. As a result, he has often had access to the hope chests in which the women store their marriage quilts. The majority of the quilts on exhibit come from Amish and Mennonite families whom the collector and his wife know personally.  Jacques Légeret is the author of three books on the Amish.

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday from 10am to 12:30pm and 2:30pm to 6pm. Closed on Friday 21th afternoon. Evenings or weekends by appointment only:

The vernissage will take place on Wednesday, December 5 from 7-8:30pm as part of Art-Hop-Polisart hopping at the Cité internationale. The detailed program is available on CitéScope.

Guided Tours

Guided tours on the theme of “Order & Beauty” with Géraldine Chouard, Professor of American Civilization at Université Paris-Dauphine and Charles-Edouard De Broin, Collector:

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