Monday, August 18, 2014

First Glance/Second Look: Quilts from the Denver Art Museum Collection


I have had the great fortune of spending my summer interning at the Denver Art Museum in the education and textile arts departments. I recently realized I hadn't told you all about the great exhibit currently on display in the museum's textile gallery through March 22nd of next year! The exhibition is called First Glance/Second Look: Quilts from the Denver Museum Collection and includes over 20 exquisite quilts!

Now I will be the first to admit that I didn't used to care at all about quilts. When it comes to needle-craft I am a dressmaker first, a costumer second, an embroider third and a milliner last; quilting has never been on my radar. That was before I spent most of my summer looking closely at these fine quilts and learning more about them. If I had ever felt affection for quilts before, it was for crazy quilts due to their use of silk and velvet, which I immediately found appealing. Crazy quilts remain my favorite, even as my appreciation for other quilts has grown.


The quilts on display range in date from the early 19th century to the late 20th century. Quilts can actually be quite useful to the historic costumer in many respects, most of all as a record of different printed textiles from a confirmed date. Crazy quilts were often made using scraps from ballgowns and even cuttings from wedding or christening dresses. I found the different embroidery patterns and techniques used in the crazy quilt below to be particularly inspiring as well!


This huge quilt was made as a bed-cover and the artist cut out each floral motif from chintz individually and then appliqued them onto the quilt! 

These detail shots above are from an early 19th century quit, costumers take note of the different cotton prints! wouldn't they make such lovely regency gowns?
This quilt is made of men's ties (mostly from the 1940's), check out the hot hula girl! She would have been a naughty detail on the underside of the tie originally!
This is a detail from one of the two house themed quilts, this being the louder and much more contrasting of the two. The design is traditional, but the fabric choices are not, as usually this style is made in more subdued colors and uses floral print fabric
I hope if you near the Denver area you will stop by to visit the exhibit and admire the wonderful quilts from the Denver Art Museum's collection. Adjacent to the main gallery is the fabulous Thread Studio space (which I will talk more about next week) where there is a second smaller exhibit of contemporary art quilts. These small scale quilts show the progression of quilting from the more traditional motifs showcased in the main exhibit, to the more boundary pushing art quilts of today. The textile gallery also shares the 6th floor with the European painting gallery and the small furniture gallery, which are naturally my other favorites at the museum!

6 comments:

  1. How incredibly beautiful! Quilts are one of the most comforting ways of preserving history ever invented and this exhibit has done a fantastic job of bringing that point to the foreground.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. It has really been surprisingly inspiring to research these quilts this summer! I didn't even know I liked quilts, but I certainly do now!

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  2. Quilts aren't my favourite thing either, but the skill and patience involved always impresses me! I hadn't thought about the textile history they preserve; that's a great point.

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    1. I can't imagine being patient enough to had sew and quilt and entire one of these, it would take me decades!

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  3. I love that tiny scrap of fabric with the little bird and the bull rushes.

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    1. Me too, that particular quilt is really such a great record of early 19th century silks, plus the embroidered flora and fauna are really cute!

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