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24 Jun 2019

WALL POWER! Quilts from the Karen and Werner Gundersheimer Gift

(New York, NY, June 24, 2019) The exhibition WALL POWER! Quilts from the Karen and Werner Gundersheimer Gift will open on August 6, 2019, at the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) (2 Lincoln Sq., Columbus Ave. at W. 65th Street). It will be on display for only four weeks (through September 1, 2019).  Included in the exhibition will be quilts recently gifted to the museum by the Gundersheimers. Also to be shown, as an added highlight, is the rare double-page religious text by Pennsylvania German fraktur artist Johannes Ernst Spangenberg (c. 1755–1814). Recently acquired by AFAM, it is one of only three Bibles that exist with the embellished pages by this artist remaining in situ.

The American Folk Art Museum is renowned for its in-depth holdings of whitework textiles, double wedding ring, crazy, and appliqué quilts, made over three centuries. In 2018, the museum received a gift of twenty-one quilts from Karen and Werner Gundersheimer that introduced new patterns into the museum’s collection, including Joseph’s Coat, Alphabet, and Spider Web.

“The American Folk Art Museum is immensely grateful for the Gundersheimer gift, as it expands our holdings and its representations of Amish and Mennonite quilts in traditional patterns,” says Jason T. Busch, director of AFAM. “The museum’s quilt collection now numbers more than eight hundred works, and with this gift it becomes even more comprehensive and a greater resource for both scholars and quilt enthusiasts.”

Gathered over a period of decades as the Gundersheimers scoured eastern Pennsylvania, and then the Midwest and Southern United States, the quilts are graphically striking examples that embody what the couple call “wall power.” Packing a tough visual punch, “the textiles hold space and defy the deceptive softness of their nature.  The strong graphic design and color sense can be likened to the work of some post-expressionist abstract painters,” adds Stacy C. Hollander, curator of the exhibition.


Exhibition credits

This exhibition is supported in part by the Bresler Foundation, the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions, the Ford Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Council for Traditional Folk Art.


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About the American Folk Art Museum

Founded in 1961, the American Folk Art Museum is the premier institution devoted to the aesthetic appreciation of historic folk art and creative expressions of contemporary self-taught artists from the United States and abroad.  The museum preserves, conserves, and interprets a comprehensive collection of the highest quality, with objects dating from the eighteenth century to the present.