Quilters take inspiration for their works from any number of places, including
the work of other artists…in other mediums. We recently posted an image of the artist Josef Albers’ “Homage to the Square” series to our Facebook page, and found out that there were several quilters who had created works inspired by the series (including quilt artist Heather Jones, whose work is featured below).
This got us thinking about what other quilted masterpieces might have taken their inspiration from one of the painting masters, and—in our search—we were thrilled to find a good number of fun, interesting works that either replicated or paid tribute to famous works of art.
For this edition of Friends@Festival, we wanted to share some of the most interesting examples we came across, including a quilt that mirrors (with a few added exceptions) a famous Van Gogh scene, a Modern quilt that pays homage to another artist’s “Homage,” and a guild challenge inspired by the work of famous abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky.
Van Gogh’s Quilt by Ann Horton
Inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles
“Everyone loves Van Gogh!” Horton begins. “His strong, somewhat distorted images are so compelling. In his work, Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles, the large perspective of the bed and the bright colors of the table and yellow chair spoke to me. Our small art quilt group was doing a challenge on depicting a quilt on a bed in an art quilt, and I felt this work would be fun to replicate in fabric.
“I like to incorporate lots of texture, so I particularly played with the texture on the pillows and covers—I hand knotted the walls after I painted the fabric, and I added lots of thread lines in black and other colors to emphasize the playful lines of the bed, chair, table, window, etc. I wanted to capture the feel of a painting, after all.
“My additions were a second yellow chair, large and upfront, with my version of a Starry Night quilt and a silly, painted cat. My little quilt was all hand stitched in bold yellow, red, and purple big stitches, swirling down the ‘bars’ of the quilt. I painted the cat and used more black thread to stylize it. I even painted the Van Gogh pictures on the wall to make it like the original. The floor was made with raw-edge strips of fabric to give more texture and subtle color change. A very fun quilt!”
Anni by Heather Jones
Inspired by Josef Albers’ “Homage to the Square” series
“My husband Jeff, who is a painter, introduced me to the work of Josef Albers
in grad school,” Jones explains. “I was instantly drawn to his series called ‘Homage to the Square,’ in which he explored the relationship between colors, and how different colors would react when placed next to each other, all arranged in a set of squares within squares.
“Once I began making quilts, I thought about the ‘Homage to the Square’ series again, specifically that it would be a great source of inspiration for a quilt design. I drew out some sketches—which sat in my notebook for a while—each variations on the series by Albers.
“I made the quilt Anni as a submission to the second Project Modern Challenge, which was a year-long national quilting competition sponsored by the Modern Quilt Guild in 2011. The theme of that challenge was to create a monochromatic quilt, so I thought that my take on the work of Albers would be a great way to work in a single hue.
“I named the quilt after his wife. I wasn’t too familiar with her or her work, but someone mentioned to me that she was a textile artist, so I thought that it was quite fitting to name the quilt Anni.
“I recently made another Albers-inspired quilt. In my latest version, the blocks are of smaller scale, and it has a lot of different colors in it, all surrounded by white sashing. I really love it, and I hope to have the pattern released soon.”
Kandinsky Challenge by Members of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild
Inspired by the works of Wassily Kandinsky
“Our guild tries to do at least one or two challenges each year,” says challenge organizer Carla Timberlake. “I came up with the idea after being asked to do something similar, from a different painter’s work, for a quilter in an online quilting bee. I enjoyed the process so much that I thought maybe others
would enjoy it too.
“This challenge was different from others that we have tried in that we were interpreting someone else’s work, rather than just making a quilt from our own imaginations. It really was a ‘challenge,’ but many rose to the occasion and finished their projects…I think there were around 45 who finished, out of around 75 who signed up at the beginning. Kandinsky’s work is thought of as being sort of a beginning for modern art I am told, so it is a perfect fit for modern quilts.
“In January 2012, I used a Kandinsky 2012 Calendar as the source of the painting in our challenge. Nine paintings were chosen from the calendar and displayed at the January guild meeting with a sign-up sheet under each. To try to ‘spread the love’ to all the paintings, there were a limited number of spots for each painting as some were more popular than others.
“The members were given some links to view their chosen painting online so they could use it as their inspiration. The quilts were not to be a copy of the painting, but to be ‘inspired’ by the painting. They could use solids only for this challenge…no prints. They were to be a wallhanging size.
“The quilters were given three months to make their quilt, with the big reveal done at the April 2012 meeting. Everyone at the meeting voted on their favorite quilt in each of the painting categories, so there were seven Viewers’ Choice Winners (two paintings did not have quilts). One quilt was chosen as the overall Viewers’ Choice winner.
Photo 1—Van Gogh’s Quilt by Ann Horton
Photo 2—The inspiration for Horton’s quilt, Van Gogh’s Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles
Photo 3—Anni by Heather Jones
Photo 4—The inspiration for Jones’ work, Albers’ “Homage to a Square” series
Photo 5—Viewers’ Choice winners from the Kandinsky Challenge
Photo 6—All entries (with artists) from the Kandinsky Challenge
Photo 7—A close-up of the Overall Viewers’ Choice winner by MaryKay Foschnat
Photo 8—Kandinsky’s On White II, the inspiration for Timberlake’s effort
Photo 9—Timberlake’s entry for the Kandinsky Challenge
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