Sunday, November 29, 2009

de Young Museum Visit

DS2 lives an hour from San Francisco and the de Young Museum of Fine Art. They currently have the Faith and Stephen Brown collection of Amish quilts on exhibit, called Amish Abstraction; so the day after Thanksgiving we ignored the Black Friday sales and drove to Golden Gate park. It turns out thousands of other families had the same idea and it took us quite awhile to find a parking spot and walk to the entrance. But that only added to the excitement for me.

Regrettably, photography was not allowed in the gallery, even if you knew how to take a photo without flash. In fact museum staff were at key points throughout the exhibit stopping patrons from taking photos. Therefore I hesitate to include any images of the quilts, but you can see the entire collection here and click the thumbnails to enlarge. They were breathtaking to see in person, softly spot lit to accentuate the color combinations and bold graphics, the cotton shone. Well here's one, just to give you an idea, taken from a calendar.

The thing I found interesting were the placards introducing the Amish lifestyle and their quilts to the public. They described the Amish simplified way of living as a "Minimalist's approach to life". That their quilts were reductionist art long before the idea of self denial and getting down to basics in an effort to create something new in your art was even conceived. The quilts are displayed in a darkened gallery that highlight their "Abstraction" but don't reveal the exquisite hand quilting. I feel the exhibit missed the point, divorcing the heart of Amish quilts from the work in an effort to present their own art concepts. This quote is from the Brown's web site:

Unlike painters, however, the Amish did not intend their quilts for public exhibition because they do not believe in demonstrating worldly pride in their work.

After Amish Abstraction, we toured the rest of the museum. King Tut and his artifacts were on exhibit in another gallery, but the lines for the tour were mind boggling. Another time perhaps.

After three hours we reluctantly headed for the car. But not before perching on a limb just above ground, what a welcome relief to our tired feet.

We made a memory.


Anonymous said...

Re: Amish Abstractions: The lighting level has nothing to do with trying to highlight the abstract designs at the expense of the exquisite quilting. The lighting is dim to avoid damage to the quilts, which can occur after many hours under bright lights. Museums have specific standards concerning how many lumens should be used for lighting delicate textiles and the de Young is observing those standards.

Fabricfaire said...

What a wonderful after Tday to work off the "stuffing"! I saw the King Tut exhibit many,many years ago,when I could handle the lines and crowds. It was fabulous!