Modern Craft: Gee’s Bend

The rapturous, jubilant- and disarmingly modern- quilts by women living in the isolated Alabaman community Gee’s Bend have featured prominently in a series of exhibits across the U.S. over the past decade, ranging from Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts to the Whitney in New York and later, Philadelphia’s Museum of Art in 2008; the group’s striking quilts return to the forefront yet again  as the F/W 11 runways witnessed the important tradition of American craft as a key reference for designers this season.

In turn, Stylesight’s F/W 12 Runway Roadmap draws inspiration from these unassuming masterpieces, which bear a striking resemblance to the work of another modernist textile maverick in the spotlight of late– Sonia Delaunay— as well as that of Bauhaus artist-couple Josef & Anni Albers.  Though it would seem impossible and irrelevant to compare the work of an extremely isolated community in the rural United States to that of international artists living in Europe in the early 20th century, there is a striking parallel in their art. Below, a comparative study of Vault favorites across the respective artists’ oeuvres.


Quilt by Gee’s Bend

Coat by Sonia Delaunay, made for Gloria Swanson 1923-24

Quilt by Gee’s Bend; Fashion plate by Sonia Delaunay, circa 1920s

Josef Albers, Homage to a Square, Yellow Climate, 1962; quilt by Gee’s Bend

Quilt square by Gee’s Bend; Josef Albers’ Homage to a Square, 1970

Quilt by Gee’s Bend; Fashion plate by Sonia Delaunay, circa 1920s

Quilt by Gee’s Bend; Abstract Diagonal Composition no. 1733,  gouache on paper, Sonia Delaunay, 1925

Quilt by Gee’s Bend

The Quilt That Started It All, Sonia Delaunay, 1911 Please note: links above do not necessarily go to the museum’s site but rather to pertinent reviews and writings at the time of the respective exhibitions.


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