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THE PILGRIM & ROY COLLECTION AT MFA, BOSTON

In a period of over five decades Gerald Roy and his partner, Paul Pilgrim, amassed one of the largest private collections of quilts in the world. Both trained in the fine arts, what attracted Pilgrim and Roy to the quilts was their deep interest in colour, as they noticed how those early American quilters used colour as the primary design element, thus anticipating what the Abstract Expressionists would do nearly a hundred years later.

Until July 27th one can view 59 distinctive quilts from the Pilgrim & Roy Collection in an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

 

Mrs. Ephraim Scott, Sunburst quilt, American, 1856. Pieced printed cotton plain weave top, printed cotton plain weave back and binding; quilted. Pilgrim/Roy Collection (Photo: MFA Boston)


Typically, anonymous women from diverse communities - stretching from 19th-century Massachusetts and Amish and Mennonite Pennsylvania to Depression-era Missouri - made the quilts. Quilting was not only a way for them to make a living, but also gave them a voice in a time when there were few opportunities for women to express themselves artistically. 

The exhibition is divided into eight sections, based on eight colour theories and techniques. The first section is called "Vibrations" and it presents quilts where complementary colours - e.g. red and blue or green and orange - are used side by side to make each appear more intense. The quilters' colour combinations cause the eye to see a "vibration" where the colours meet. The resulting effect is powerful and it is only a further testimony to the quilters' theoretical knowledge on colour and optical effects that some of them would add an adjacent colour to lessen the effect on the eyes.  

Quilts and Color. The Pilgrim/Roy Collection @ Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, April 6, 2014 - July 27, 2014

 

Source: Pantone View, WCVB