The art world made a “radical shift” during the 1950’s. Previously the picture plane had been seen as a vertical – with the top of a painting corresponding to the head of a human being standing erect.
Then Rauschenberg made painting/assemblages that alluded to surfaces such as tabletops, floors, charts, bulletin boards and beds. His 'combine' paintings are are meant to be hung on walls, but they keep referring back to the horizontals on which we walk, sit, work and sleep.
What does that have to do with quilts?
For many generations beds were the exclusive domain and showcase for the art of quilting. In 1950, people were not hanging quilts from walls or calling themselves artists when they created quilts. Yet today, “we see quilts on walls without blinking an eye. To think about actually sleeping under many of these quilts makes as much sense as actually shooting arrows at a Jasper Johns Target.”
This shift did not happen overnight but it has gone unchronicled by quiltmaking books. Quilters have been doing ‘flatbed picture plane’ ideas for a long time. They were precursors of the avant-garde.
Paraphrased by moi from Martin Karlow's essay, The Rise of the Contemporary Art Quilt