Fondation des États-Unis | From October 6 to 25 : Exhibition « Once Upon a Quilt: America as a Patchwork » | Opening Wednesday, October 5
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From October 6 to 25 : Exhibition « Once Upon a Quilt: America as a Patchwork » | Opening Wednesday, October 5

Once Upon a Quilt: America as a Patchwork
An exhibition of quilts from the collection of Charles-Edouard de Broin

Patchwork quilts have been used as a geographic metaphor for the United States since the early days of its history.

Quilting dates back to colonial times when people were looking for a way to use their leftover fabric scraps. This second-hand practice has been a part of the nation’s development up to the modern day.

American quilts were first characterized by their utility, a perfect example of the principle set out by Tocqueville in 1835, who stated that “democratic nations habitually prefer the useful to the beautiful.” That did not, however, prevent quilts from becoming esthetic objects. Today, the beauty of these centerpieces of American folk art is unquestionable: the numerous patterns, shades and fabrics, as well as the seemingly infinite combinations of material are of an incredible richness. These quilts, which were once such an integral part of Americans’ daily life, have rightly earned their place as works of art.

From the classic “Log Cabin” (and its variations) to the colorful, “jazzy” African-American quilt and the geometric “Amish” quilt or “Friendship Quilt” (a group effort, created for a special occasion), patchwork remains, sew to speak, an important vector of American expression, crafting the nation’s identity one quilt at a time.

Today the Fondation des Etats-Unis is proud to present a rich collection of quilts which highlight the diversity of a practice that constitutes an integral part of America’s cultural heritage. It is a great honor and pleasure to welcome Charles-Edouard de Broin, a patchwork expert, who has agreed to share his personal collection with us.

A second exhibition on the same theme will take place from November 3-30 (Opening November 2): “The thread of disobedience: Crazy Quilts”
~Géraldine Chouard, Curator

Charles-Edouard de Broin, Collector

“My interest in folk art began when I was a boy. I discovered the world of patchwork while working in oil exploration, first in Sydney and afterwards in Houston, Texas, the Mecca for patchwork fans, and my home for many years.

My esthetic fondness for these quilts and my fascination with their geometry and graphic impact quickly turned into a passion for their historical and cultural relevance. This is now the main purpose of my interest in the practice.

Of course, my tastes have changed over the 30 plus years that I’ve been collecting quilts. I’ve collected everything from the ‘Log Cabins’ and their variations to more audacious and/or abstract quilts, as well as the vibrant ‘Amish’ quilts. Today, I’m particularly interested in ‘Crazy’ quilts.”

Géraldine Chouard, Curator

Géraldine Chouard is a Professor at the University of Paris-Dauphine and a specialist in American visual culture. She has a keen interest in patchwork, which has fascinated her for over 20 years. Read her detailed biography here.

Opening Hours

Monday to Friday from 10am to 12:30pm and 2:30pm to 6pm.
Evenings or weekends by appointment only:

Guided tours : the 11th of October at 2pm, 18th of October at 11am and the 25th of October at 4pm.
The exhibition will stop at 4pm the 24th of October.

The vernissage will take place on Wednesday, October 5 at 7pm as part of Art-Hop-Polis, art hopping at the Cité internationale. Seven other residences – Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, India, Portugal, Tunisia and Canada – also invite you to discover their exhibitions. The detailed program will be available shortly on CiteScope.

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