Rhapsody in Blue | Art-Hop Polis

The Fondation des États-Unis is pleased to present the exhibition “Rhapsody in Blue” from Charles-Edouard de Broin’s collection, opening on Wednesday, December 4 as part of Art-Hop Polis! The exhibition will run from December 4 to 19.

“Rhapsody in Blue”, one of the most popular orchestral works in the United States, was composed in 1924 by George Gershwin, who considered the piece to be “a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues.” Popular folklore served as the inspiration for Gershwin’s rhapsody, which combines improvisation and fantasia. His melody lends a certain flair to the national melting pot, and patchwork quilts are its textile counterpart. In the United States, the practice of recycling fabric scraps dates back to the colonial period and has continued to evolve up to the present day. Quilting is an art of juxtaposition that embraces the principle of diversity as it assembles disparate pieces into a coherent whole. Patchwork can be defined by its rhapsodic nature; through the endless rearrangement of scraps, America’s future is orchestrated through the patching together of quilts, thus illustrating the etymology of the term rhaptein, which means “to sew”. Just as the blues heavily influenced Gershwin’s composing, the color blue gave new life to textile creations. The magnificent pieces from Charles-Edouard de Broin’s collection can certainly attest to this. His collection will be on display at a new exhibition at the Fondation des États-Unis. Many of his quilts feature various shades of indigo, a color that was particularly popular at the end of the 19th century everywhere from North Carolina to Pennsylvania and Ohio. Other hues include the dark blue of Amish quilts or the grayish blue of Confederate soldiers’ uniforms, an example which highlights the link between fabric and collective memory, a connection that may, at times, lead to a case of the blues. Blue is a versatile, yet classic, color that is used in a wide variety of compositions, be they geometric (“Building a barn”, “Stairs”), historical (“Burgoyne under siege”), emblematic (“Stars”), poetic (“The devil’s claw”), or even lyrical with the quilt “Crazy”, whose velvet stars produce a spellbinding visual impact. This exhibition is a textile kaleidoscope of America as you have never seen it before, inviting us to see life through blue-colored glasses. – Géraldine Chouard, curator of the exhibtion

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, 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 and Charles-Edouard de Broin’s projects on their new website.


Wednesday, December 4 from 7-8:30pm as part of Art-Hop-Polisart hopping at the Cité internationale. Find the program on Citéscope and follow the Facebook page for more information.

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday from 10am to 12:30pm and 2:30pm to 5:30pm. Closed on Thursday, December 12 and Friday, December 13 in the afternoon (starting from 12:30pm). Evenings or weekends by appointment only: contact@feusa.org

Guided Tours

Guided tours with Géraldine Chouard and Charles-Edouard De Broin on:

  • Friday, December 6 at 2:30pm
  • Sunday, December 8 at 6:15pm after the Rendez-vous Musical #64
  • Tuesday, December 10 at 2:30pm
  • Tuesday, December 17 at 2:30pm
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