Concentric Squares

February, 2015

Concentric Squares

Maker unknown

Circa 1890-1910
United States
Ardis and Robert James Collection of Quilts, 1997.007.0705

Concentric Squares appeared in the International Quilt Museum exhibition Wild by Design: Innovation and Artistry in American Quilts Feb. 14 – March 31, 2003. In the exhibition, curators Janet Berlo, Patricia Crews and Carolyn Ducey explored common design elements seen in quilts from 1825 to 2000.

In the book Wild by Design: Two Hundred Years of Innovation and Artistry in American Quilts, Berlo, Crews and collector Jonathan Holstein offered commentary on this piece from the Ardis and Robert James Collection of Quilts.

From Janet Berlo:

“Some astonishing red and white geometric pieced quilts date from the 1850s, but it’s more common to see them from the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the twentieth century, like this one.”

From Patricia Crews:

“The combination of red and white has remained a classic color scheme for quilts since the 1850s. Whereas the red cottons used in the mid-nineteenth-century  were often printed, after 1875 the reds were more often solids like the ones used in this quilt.”

From Jonathan Holstein:

“In the Whitney show, we exhibited one early-twentieth-century quilt very similar to this one, except the red bars have sawtooth edges. It supported our developing ideas about the aesthetics of American quilts; it was so startlingly similar in visual results to the effects contemporary New York painters were looking for, that it encouraged us to continue to look beyond the received wisdom about quilts and see them as early expressions of modernity.”