Excerpt from The Art Quilt—"A History of the Art Quilt"
-from Threads Magazine
"While the controversy over whether
quilts are art or craft continues to rage, a large number of
innovative and powerful works-in-fabric have quietly emerged,
forcing the medium to the forefront of the contemporary art scene. The Art Quilt by Robert Shaw (Hugh Lauter Levin
Associates; 1997; oversize hardcover, $85; 304 pp.) documents
this quilted outpouring so effectively that it may just put an
end to the battle.
With the appearance of this gorgeous and
ambitious book, it seems unlikely that quilts, as well as the
various objects created through the quilting process, could ever
again be dismissively assumed to be staid, quaint, bound by tradition,
or strictly utilitarian. The Art Quilt is an art-lover's
treasure, a quiltmaker's bible, and a collector's reminder of
all the wonderful quilts yet to covet. Shaw volunteers a critical
view of the tradition of quiltmaking from the early historical
influences, elaborates the construction methods and surface-design
treatments pursued by the modern studio artist, and closes with
an in-depth look at abstract, narrative, figurative, and nature-based
quilts and their makers. The writing is focused and readable,
targeted primarily to those who haven't already immersed themselves
in the art-quilt world.
The photographs, of course, are the book's
crowning glory. More than 300 sumptuous illustrations, as clear
and as detailed as you can get without standing in front of the
actual work, showcase the talents of the many featured artists.
Each page is more powerful than the last, and even the captions
are a delight: they're full of useful and clarifying information.
Photos are grouped together on double-page spreads by complementary
colors and similar subjects--not an easy task with so many, and
such disparate, images.
Hats off to Shaw, who has undertaken a
massive task: to distill a vast and diverse movement into a single
book. His research is extensive and thorough in a rapidly growing
medium, and his analysis is honest, straightforward, and understandable.
Yet, for all this, The Art Quilt is a book to be
savored first and studied later, and any attempt to take it all
in at once would be an affront to the senses. Hold back from
turning page after page in succession; soak in the images, then
relish the captions and surrounding text. There's no question
that the work of the artists included, both well-known professionals
and those not yet in the limelight, will make your hands itch
to create something new. Although The Art Quilt may be considered outdated in ten or so years' time, this volume
is clearly the definitive guide to the art quilt movement today."