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Singular Fascination

Singular Fascination looks at quilts made by repeating a single basic shape across the entire surface of a quilt. Joining squares, triangles, and hexagons only to each other afforded quiltmakers total modularity, and the opportunity and challenge of designing with color and contrast alone. Examples from 1840 through 1960 showcase the ingenuity, precision, and skill with which American quiltmakers deployed their color palettes—the particular array of small-scale prints available in a given period—to create complex figure-ground relationships, effects of light and shadow, and textural illusion. The allover, pieced geometry on display here is arguably the great achievement of late nineteenth-century quiltmaking, and it points, too, to the primacy of color in historical, modern, and contemporary American design.