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The Quilts of Gee's Bend Hardcover – September 23, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Tinwood Books; First Edition edition (September 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965376648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965376648
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 11.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gee's Bend, Alabama, is a hamlet of 750 residents, most of whom are the descendants of slaves from the former Pettway plantation (and bear the surname Pettway), who during the New Deal purchased farms from the government. For much of the last century, the women of Gee's Bend have produced some of the most striking examples of American vernacular art, sharing them among the community and storing them within their homes. Aside from a brief stint of notoriety during a Civil Rights-era "Freedom Quilting Bee," this catalogue, accompanying an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, marks the work's entry into the public sphere. Founded by art collector William Arnett and Jane Fonda, the nonprofit Tinwood Alliance devotes itself to the cultural legacy of Gee's Bend, here offering 195 illustrations (162 in full color) documenting the quilts and the lives of many of their makers. The oversize format allows the many full-page reproductions to approximate the sensation of a large quilt spread on the page; the many "Housetop" quilts, with arresting geometric patterns and terrific color sense, speak for themselves. The book and exhibition make an important contribution to American cultural history.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

At first glance, the quilts of this collection are simply stunning--rich colors in surprising combinations, refreshingly irregular geometric compositions with hardly a right angle among them, big blocks whose seams virtually vibrate with energy. Then consider the history of the community they come from, and these quilts become a stunning illustration of resourcefulness. Gee's Bend, a remote peninsula on the Alabama River, is an isolated place, one that has known extreme poverty and struggle. Its quilters of the twentieth century are showcased here. Three insightful essays on the community's history and its quilting tradition make up for a self-consciously scholarly introduction. The words of the quilters themselves follow. Brief accounts of their lives and thoughts on quilting accompany full-page photographs of their accomplishments. This large-format hardcover, and coinciding exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, should guarantee the women of Gee's Bend the prominence they deserve in the story of the American quilt. Marya Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Superbly written documentary.
Judith A. Archer
This beautiful book encouraged her to take her middle and high school art students to the exhibition.
Kerri Drylie
This is a beautiful book about both the women and the quilts of Gee's Bend.
Ginny

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Donna Pettway on January 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Congratulations!!!! A few of these women are my aunts and they have been working so hard at this all their lives, I am so happy that they are finally getting the recognition that they deserve. They used to make so many quilts when we were younger and just give them away to family members as Xmas gifts, now they are being hung in museums around the US and I have proudly displayed my childhood quilts so everyone will know just how proud I am of them!!! Now I know the Pettway woman will always be remembered for the proud and strong women they are.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
While in Houston for the International Quilt Festival, I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see this exhibition. Fitting this into the already busy schedule wasn't easy, but am I glad I did. I have never been more moved in my life. It is hard to imagine that anything could be more moving and beautiful than the story of these remarkable women. Except for their quilts. Words can not describe these creations. I am struck by how the beautiful images in this book capture so well the actual quilts in the exhibition. In addition to looking for adjectives to describe the quilts, I am struggling to find something to compare them to-without any luck. They defy comparison or definition. I applaud the museum and the publisher for making this available to us all. This book will stay on my shelves, front and center. My Christmas shopping is complete.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is truly a coffee table art book, not just a "quilt" book. The quality of the photographs, book paper, etc. has the look, feel, and smell of a fine art book. I was very impressed. The quilts themselves are beautiful -- some were more my taste than others, I'll admit; but all respectable. Many of them had a very modern art feel to them-- brilliant colors, textural, geometric. The supplemental photographs and text are also wonderful-- crisp black and white photos of the artists and worthy biographies. These are the best examples I've seen of African-American quilts, and indeed this is a stunning art book all the way around.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am an Alabama native. I have visited Gee's Bend, Alabama many times, but mainly to EAT!! They have more than pretty quilts in Gee's Bend. I have seen the quilts but because I love quilts and even tried unsuccessully to make one but, not being an expert, I guess I did not appreciate how popular the Gee's Bend quilts would become until I saw the story on CBS's Sunday Morning about the quilts being on display at the Whitney Museum in New York. The current quilters visited the opening at the museum and song those old gospel songs to their many fans.
The book itself is filled with stories and lovely photographs of the quilts. All the quilts are hand-stitched, of course. I couldn't imagine anyone creating such beauty with a needle and thread.
I am so happy I pre-ordered the book from Amazon. It will be a prized part of my collection.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Fischer on June 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not only did I purchase this book, I purchased one for a friend of mine who is a quilter. The quilts and the incredible stories behind them are powerful motivators for those who wish to accomplish anything, not just quilting. It is the triumph of the human spirit and proves that deep down, each of us has an indominable core. I am envious of the skill that these women posessed and of the oral history and cultural traditions which have been created and passed down. It's a reminder of the scope of human potential.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I grew up near Gee's Bend. Not only are the quilters great artists but they are also good people.
The quilts sewn with the hands of these untrained abstract artist's are as powerful as the abstract art of Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Jackson Pollack, and Robert Rauschenberg being shown on the floor below them at the Whitney. The women of Gee's Bend may be some of the finest female artist's of the 20th century.
If you decide to go the source of the quilts stop by Mark and Polly Bennett's home in Alberta when she has quilts hanging out and you will come across two individuals who will make you fill at home as Polly describes in detail her quilts.
Yet the quilts of Gee's Bend would never have received the recognition that they do now without the work of Stella Witherspoon. Stella traveled the world promoting the quilts from Gee's Bend. Everyone Stella came in contact with left with a feeling of geniune warmth.
Anyone who wants an art book on the deep South should have this book.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Claudia J. Jarratt on September 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a testament to the ingenuity, tenacity, and faith of the women of Gee's Bend who, from their lives of deep poverty and hard scrabble living, still found the inner resources to create functional, yet strikingly original art.

A wonderful blend of photographs and commententary by the artists, this book was published to accompany the museum exhibits of these renown women and their art as their quilts were exhibited at selected art galleries throughout the United States.

This book should be of great interest to those interested in African American art in the United States, original primitive quilting, life in early emancipated colonies in the South, and Gee's Bends importance in the Civil Right's movement.
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