Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50

Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50

Abstract Design in American Quilts, an exhibition presented in 1971 at New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art, far exceeded the reach and impact its creators initially anticipated. In short, it became a cultural phenomenon.

A last-minute addition to the Whitney’s summer schedule, Abstract Design in American Quilts attracted unexpectedly large and enthusiastic audiences, quickly selling out its catalog and garnering outsized praise from eminent critics.

“A stunning revelation.”
--Hilton Kramer, New York Times art critic, July 3, 1971 

Equally important, numerous versions of the exhibition traveled to museums and galleries across the U.S., Europe, and Japan throughout the 1970s. Artists, hobbyists, collectors, critics, and scholars saw the exhibition in places as far-flung as Atlanta and Amsterdam, Minneapolis, and Manchester. They saw textile folk art recognized for what it was: an important part of our collective artistic and cultural heritage. Inspired, many viewers began to incorporate quilts and quiltmaking into their lives, careers, and artistic practices. 

In Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50, surround yourself with the original Whitney quilts and learn how the exhibition created such an immediate impact.

The quilts in this exhibition are from the International Quilt Museum’s Permanent Collection.

 

About the Collectors

About the Collectors
About the Collectors

Jonathan Holstein and Gail van der Hoof met in 1967. They quickly connected over their mutual interest in art and textiles and, in 1968, van der Hoof joined Holstein in New York City, where the couple began amassing a quilt collection.

van der Hoof was born in Berkeley, California in 1943. She attended the University of California-Santa Barbara, majoring in art and English. After a short stint in fashion merchandising, van der Hoof moved to Europe, traveling and exploring extensively while designing and constructing her own clothing. 

Holstein grew up in New York State and attended Harvard College as an English major. After graduation he pursued a law degree and worked as an editor for a trade magazine and as an art photographer in New York City.

Holstein and van der Hoof spent weekends in Pennsylvania searching for antiques. They found troves of American pieced quilts with visual parallels to modern art and began purchasing examples. The couple married in 1973, and in 1983 moved to Cazenovia, New York, and raised their two children while continuing to collect and exhibit quilts. 

Works in the Exhibition

Works in the Exhibition
Works in the Exhibition

coming soon

Gallery Photos

Gallery Photos
Gallery Photos

Photos from the Original Whitney Exhibition

Photos from the Original Whitney Exhibition
Photos from the Original Whitney Exhibition
Support for this exhibition has been provided by contributions from visitors like you and by the following sponsors Robert & Ardis James Foundation, Lincoln Modern Quilt Guild, Anonymous, Nebraska Arts Council/Nebraska Cultural Endowment and Friends of the International Quilt Museum. The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this exhibition through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Visit www.artscouncil.nebraska.gov for more information.
Event Date
Friday, March 26, 2021 to Saturday, September 4, 2021