Annie Bendolph (1900–1981), "Thousand Pyramids" variation, c. 1930
Cotton sacking material and chambray, 83 x 70 in.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
Triangles are among the most versatile geometric shapes for quiltmaking, whether they are right-angle, equilateral, isosceles, or have irregular angles and sides. Changes in the direction of the blocks in the strips keep the eye flying over the surface. Annie Bendolph often worked with triangles, as in her Wild Goose Chase from around 1930, and she was masterful in altering sizes, colors, and directions to create an op-art mood in her Thousand Pyramids.
Two of the best-known quilts by Annie Bendolph (1900 - 1981) from the 1930s demonstrate her mastery of geometric forms. She frequently worked with mosaics of triangles (known generally to quilters as one-patch designs), whose size, shape, and direction she would manipulate, often in subtle ways, to create striking effects of movement and contrast. This artful disruption of regular patterns is common in the work of many Gee’s Bend quiltmakers, including those by her daughter, Bettie Bendolph Seltzer, who describes her mother:
When I was growing up, Mama made quilts to keep us warm. The ladies then piece their quilts at home and go to each other house to help quilt. At the start all they was making them out of was old clothes, pants, fertilizer sacks, dress tails, and meal and flour sacks, too. That's it. They had to beat the cotton to pad it out to put it in the quilt… I always wanted to be like my mama—hardworking, having something of my own. She was so independent. But I never wanted to have to go through what she went through.
Annie Bendolph’s work is in the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Learn more about Annie Bendolph here.
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