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77.122.3_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg 77.122.3_detail_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg CUR.77.122.3.jpg

Bars Quilt

Amish quilts are a unique subgenre in the field. Expected to show restraint in their pieced quilts, Amish women avoided printed and synthetic textiles as well as the intricate appliqué designs seen in mainstream quilt-making, favoring overall large-scale patterns and richly saturated monochromatic fabrics, often juxtaposed in unusual combinations. They did, however, lavish time and energy on the stitched designs used to hold the layers of a quilt together.

The result is bold geometric designs that make Amish quilts seem modern in spirit. In fact, early proponents of American modernism were drawn to folk art, including quilt-making, and participated in a revival of interest in the material in the 1920s and 1930s. By the 1970s it was common to compare Amish and other more minimalist quilts to the work of Color Field painters such as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Jules Olitski, most famously in the Whitney Museum’s 1971 exhibition Abstract Design in American Quilts. Those artists produced remarkable variations on vibrant and flat abstractions, and Amish quilts can likewise be seen as experiments in color and scale within a limited range of patterns.

  • Culture: American
  • Medium: Cotton, wool
  • Dates: ca. 1890
  • Dimensions: 83 x 82 in. (210.8 x 208.3 cm)  (show scale)
  • Markings: Cross stitched initials "M. K." in white on back left corner.
  • Museum Location: This item is not on view
  • Exhibitions:
  • Accession Number: 77.122.3
  • Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. Peter Findlay
  • Rights Statement:
  • Caption: American. Bars Quilt, ca. 1890. Cotton, wool, 83 x 82 in. (210.8 x 208.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. Peter Findlay, 77.122.3
  • Image: overall, 77.122.3_Gavin_Ashworth_photograph.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph (Gavin Ashworth, photographer), 2012
  • Record Completeness: Good (65%)
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