Patchwork and geometry have always gone hand in hand, from the beginning of this flourishing folk art practice to the contemporary period, with a continually renewed inventiveness.
Among the best-known patterns in the repertoire, the “Log Cabin” immediately comes to mind, inspired by the “log cabins” of the first pioneers, so closely linked to the New World tradition that it has become a veritable icon. Biblically simple, it is based on a central square shape (often red), representing the fire in the hearth, at the heart of the fireplace, around which the logs are arranged clockwise in thin rectangular strips. The ABCs of patchwork, in a way, with an incomparable visual force. The many variations on this model took on the evocative names of some of the pieces presented here, such as “Barn Raising”, “Furrows”, and “Pinwheels”, thus offering a vibrant textile reflection of the founding of the United States, which, from East to West, was itself built as a patchwork. Within the repertoire, the Amish quilts are distinguished by their rigorous geometry associated with powerful solid colours. From triangles, squares and rhombuses integrated in an infinite number of combinations, they form stylised motifs of everyday life (bars, chains, saw teeth). Some of them, of great graphic modernity, offer visual similarities with abstract works, such as the series Homage to the Square by Josef Albers (1950), which explores the relationship between color and geometry. Over time, according to fashion and trends, all the figures of plane geometry have been declined, from the simplest square to the most complex polygons, playing on the contrasting use of light and dark fabrics to create a multitude of optical effects such as “tilted blocks”, “bow ties” or other “staircases”, of strong vibratory intensity. At the opposite end of the spectrum from classical geometry, and as if to take the opposite view, the “crazy quilt” has freed patchwork from the straitjacket of the pattern and given free rein to the fantasy of small hands. More of an anti-pattern than a pattern, it allows for the creation of a textile universe where pieces of choice fabric (velvet, satin, silk and embroidery) are combined with rich embroidery in complete poetic licence. Although the fashion lasted only a few years, between 1876 (the date of Philadelphia World’s Fair) and 1910, this genre of disobedience continued to inspire American patchwork for a long time, producing spectacular pieces with a stained-glass, mosaic or kaleidoscope look, like the few specimens that resonate visually with the more traditional models here. Placed under the sign of a variable geometry, the anthology presented here offers a vast range of figures, formats and flashes of light. Beware, some of the pieces can make you dizzy.
Géraldine Chouard-Véron, american civilisation Professor at Université Paris-Dauphine, Curator of the exhibition.
Charles-Edouard de Broin, Collector.
Charles-Edouard de Broin, collector
“My interest in folk art began when I was a boy. I discovered the world of patchwork while working in oil exploration, first in Sydney and afterwards in Houston, Texas, the Mecca for patchwork fans, and my home for many years. My esthetic fondness for these quilts and my fascination with their geometry and graphic impact quickly turned into a passion for their historical and cultural relevance. This is now the main purpose of my interest in the practice. Of course, my tastes have changed over the 30 plus years that I’ve been collecting quilts. I’ve collected everything from the Log Cabins and their variations to more audacious and/or abstract quilts, as well as the vibrant Amish quilts. Today, I’m particularly interested in (and most certainly a bit crazy for) Crazy quilts.”
See an interview with Charles-Edouard de Broin here, at the FEU 2016 exhibition.
Géraldine Chouard-Véron, curator
Géraldine Chouard is a Professor at the University of Paris-Dauphine and a specialist in American visual culture, and patchwork in particular, her area of research. Her work focuses on the historical and cultural value of quilting. She has taken part in several exhibitions, including Quilt Art: the Art of Patchwork at the Mona Bismarck Center in 2013. She has filmed two documentaries with Anne Crémieux: Riché Richardson: Portrait of an Artist. From Montgomery to Paris (2009) and Gwendolyn Magee, Mississippi. Threads of History (2012). She is also a member of the editiorial board for L’Amérique des images, a collective work dedicated to the visual history and culture in the United States (Hazan/Paris-Diderot, 2013). As a member of the editorial board for Transatlantica since 2001, she heads the Trans’Arts section, dedicated to American visual arts. Read her detailed biography here.
Discover all of Géraldine Chouard-Véron and Charles-Edouard de Broin’s projects on their website.
Covid : In accordance with government regulations, you will be asked to show your vaccination passport or a negative Covid test taken within the last 48h.
Please respect the general physical distancing guidelines. Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrance.
The opening will take place on the first Wednesday of December as part of Art-Hop-Polis.
Date: December 1st | Time: 6-8:30pm | Facebook Event
Dates for the exhibition: December 3rd-22nd
Visitis will be organized after the Rendez-vous Musical. Other dates will be added during the month.