Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sentimentalism and Quilts

Grandma Moses
The Quilting Bee

The conflict between sentimentalism and modernism is intrinsic in the word quilt.

Quilts ARE sentimental. Dropping one into a painting evokes all sorts of sentiment, primarily nostalgia for an imagined rural life of female domesticity.

Bob Pettes
The Quilting Bee

Morgan Weistling
The Quilting Bee

It's hard to overcome the connection, which is why some textile artists refuse to use the word quilt to describe their art.

Robert Rauschenberg
Bed, 1955
Collection of the Museum of Modern Art

But you can also work with that sentimentality to "Épater la bourgeoisie" (Shock the Middle Class) as Robert Rauschenberg did when he created a sensation by painting on his sheets and bedquilt and mounting the bed on a gallery wall.

Robert Rauschenberg ,Credit Blossom (Spread) 1978
Collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art

Here is another of his "combines" incorporating a quilt.

The museum caption tells us it is:
"Solvent transfer, quilt, and other fabrics on paperboard applied to gessoed wood panel 84 x 108 x 2 in."
See a giant picture here by clicking on the photo on the Museum's web page. 


  1. There are many historical accounts of quilting bees which were called quilting parties in the 19th century. And even before the Civil War people were nostalgic about them.