Saturday, September 16, 2023

Minimalism

 Cite by Ellsworth Kelly 1951  oil on wood, 20 joined panels, 56.5 x 70.5 inches

There is a SAQA global exhibition of quilts premiering this weekend at the Carrefour in Alsace France.  It is entitled Minimalism and it was juried/curated by Dorothy Caldwell.  

Dorothy wrote a juror's essay at the beginning of the catalog that reminisced about her visit to Jonathan Holstein's exhibition of American Quilts at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1971 when she was an art student and the dominant Abstract Art Movement of the time was Minimalism.  

In her essay,  Dorothy named key artists of the Minimalist movement such as Ellsworth Kelly (top image), Agnes Martin (see the two images below) and Donald Judd (see his wall sculpture in the next photo).  I apologize for the quality of these images, I got them from the web.

Summer by Agnes Martin 1964  watercolour, ink, on board and paper, 72 x 72 inches

 
Buds by Agnes Martin 1959  oil on canvas, 50 inches square

Minimalism emphasized geometric shapes, stripes, grids, solid colours and truth to materials.

When Dorothy Caldwell attended the Whitney show in New York, she writes in her essay that she had an epiphany.  She realized that quilts are minimalistic and that the quilts in the exhibition, (made by anonymous women) were stunning, sophisticated art.  She could see that quilts embodied Minimalism's essence.  

"This was a turning point, and I moved on from painting to textiles.  The Minimalist tradition inspired making art where the material carries the message."  Dorothy Caldwell

Untitled by Donald Judd 1967   lacquer on galvanized iron, 12 units each 9 x 40 x 31 inches


The Minimalist Movement of the 60's and 70's acknowledged material in its original form.

"Jurying SAQA's Minimalism exhibition was an invitation to revisit the Minimalist Movement.  The experience allowed me to consider Minimalism's relevance today, as manifest in contemporary art quilts.  It is refreshing to experience honest qualities of cloth.  Multiple interpretations of Minimalism, in the dynamic world of the art quilt, will challenge viewers to experience a movement rooted in the 1960s in a thoroughly modern context."  Dorothy Caldwell

Although there are 43 artists included in this exhibition there is space enough for only six in this post.  Please visit this link to view all of them.  (A printed catalogue is available from SAQA)

 Solitude by Margaret Black, USA, cotton and dye,
straight line machine quilted, 69.5 x 40.5 inches 2021

Seeking Simplicity: Threads 3 by Lynne Seaman, UK,  cotton, dye, fusible web, 
machine embroidery/quilted with coloured threads 25.5 x 25.5 inches 2022

Quilt Drawing #25 - String of Breaths  silk, hand embroidered and hand quilted
59 x 34 inches 2021

Polder Horizon by Petra Fallaux, USA   cotton, dyes, mono printed, overdyed, 
machine pieced and machine quilted  67 x 43 inches  2021

Total Solar Eclipse by Jeri Auty, USA  cotton, layered and pieced
machine quilted 47 x 31.5 inches 2022

Ode to Jan by Marjolein van der Eijk, Netherlands, cotton sateen
machine stitched and quilted, 36 x 36 inches 2022

I have a piece in this show.  Please see my update blog. There is also a photo of my quilt in the sidebar of this blog.   

A Red Hill A Green Hill by Dorothy Caldwell,  cotton with ink wash and earth ochre,
hand applique and hand stitched, 9'4" x 9' 8"  2012


The Minimalism exhibition will travel for three years.  It's in France right now, next stop Italy, so I hope that many of you will have an opportunity to view it as it travels to a gallery or festival near you.  

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