Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Primitive Look

Patchwork made of imitation patchwork
 in Pennsylvania Dutch style

From 1940 to 1970 the folkloric look was a prominent trend
in American decorating. The Tyrolean-style feedsack above
celebrated Swiss rural costume, frozen in time...

Franz von Defregger
Young Man in Tyrolean Costume, 1872

which was mixed with the Pennsylvania Dutch


A new generation of artists and collectors who'd grown up with
Pennsylvania Dutch/Tyrolean kitchen curtains began collecting an edgier folkart...

Drawing by Bill Traylor

including art by living artists who became known
as outsider artists.

Painting by Sam Doyle

Textiles with an edge included quilts...

Wool applique quilt dated 1896
...particularly appliqued quilts

Early 20th century applique quilt

Early 20th century applique mat

Hooked rugs also became very collectible.

In the 1980s a new style of quilt appeared, driven by designers with art school backgrounds and a love for naive art. We call the quilt style primitive, using a word that goes back to John Ruskin's term for pre-Renaissance Italian art in 1850.

Spring Has Sprung by Jan Patek

Characteristics of primitive style included out-of-scale imagery, flat color, and simple shapes with asymmetrical forms.

A fresh look at icons of folk art included misshapen stars characteristic of Linda Brannock and Jan Patek ...

and elongated hearts. 
Here a quilt by Lissa Alexander at Moda.

Pattern for Lisa DeBee Schiller's
Liberty Garden

New machine techniques and old ideas inspired an applique revival. 

The look might be "primitive" but the color and design
were quite sophisticated.

Camp Reveille from Blackbird Designs

Hooked rug about 1910
featuring elongated florals. Stretched out imagery
is a hallmark of the current primitive look.

Hooked rug about 1910

Tile quilt top dated 1893 featuring silhouetted shapes

Recent quilts in the Primitive Style:

Liberty's Eagle by Karla Menaugh and Barbara Brackman
Red white and tan

Pomegranates and Berries by Jan Patek

The colors in the primitive movement are muted, based on faded dyes and washed out
browns and tans, quite a contrast to the super-bright super-graphics of the 1970s.

Jo Morton
Tans were the neutrals; whites almost forgotten.

The primitive look evolved into the 21st century with a color revival
Blackbird Design booth capturing the primitive look
in the twenty-teens.

Lisa Bongean's Evelyn's Album

Sue Spargo combines primitive florals with vivid color.

As white recycles into favor and color makes a comeback we will surely see style changes in future primitive quilts.
Is anyone ready for a Tyrolean revival?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Modern Print Monday: Dora Batty

Hurstwood by Dora Batty, London

Dora Batty (1887? or 1900-1966) was an influential teacher at London design schools from the 1930s through the '50s, head of the Textile Design Department at the Central School of Art.  She is best known for a series of posters she did for the London Underground.

London Transport Poster by Dora Batty

She used a variety of modern styles in her posters, ceramics and textiles. 

Those pictured here are what might be called folkloric modernism, stylized imagery drawn from traditional Eastern European abstractions of nature. Modern yet nostalgic, folkloric abstractions were pioneered by Vienna's Wiener Werkstatte at the beginning of the century and quite popular after World War II.

Starlings by Dora Batty

Because so little is written about Dora Batty we don't know if she was creating trends in the late 1940s or simply expanding upon popular ideas.

Framlingham by Dora Batty, 1951

Feedsack with folkloric imagery

Batty's imagery fits into the trend for folkloric prints 
called Pennsylvania Dutch in post-war America.

The imagery is still popular today, as in this Japanese print from 
Lecien in their My FolkLore series.

See Sally Ann Parker's search for facts about Dora Batty here:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

American Primitive = Pennsylvania Dutch

An interest in folkloric American design, particularly that of the Pennsylvania Germans, became a mid-century fad in the U.S.

Donald Deskey design

The imagery combines a European folkloric look
with southeastern Pennsylvania traditional arts.

Basic abstraction may have appealed to some

Metal Rooster Weathervane

but the imagery was soon taken over by a rural nostalgia, a kind of Colonial Revival mentality.

Fashion for folkloric images found its way to feedsack prints in the '40s and '50s.

Chickens on chicken feed sacks.

The interest in folkloric designs included the whole farm menagerie

The whole farm
and here the farmers themselves in a vintage dress

and curtains.

Schumacher's put out a Museum Collection of prints
picturing the trendy folk arts of the time
ships and plates (and a Confederate soldier at top right.)

Ships in bottles, duck decoys and iron trivets


 If one couldn't afford authentic Pennsylvania German toleware or tinware one could buy curtain material picturing the must-have items.

Or make your own copies

1948 Jane Zook

The fad for what was called Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutsch) was basic household design
from 1940 on.

Pennsylvania-Dutch quiilt dated 1953,
probably from a kit.

with folkloric fabric print on the back.

Pennsylvania Dutch quilted silk dress
by movie costumer Gilbert Adrian.

The modernism is hard to see through all the sentiment and nostalgia but it was there.