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On March 29-30, over 800 works from Academy Award-Winning Director Jonathan Demme’s art collection will be sold during an auction at Material Culture in Philadelphia. For 27 years, Demme has collected self-taught art by contemporary Jamaican intuitive painters and Haitian and American outsider artists. The 1,050-lot sale spans from the 1940s through present day.

After acquiring a small painting by the Haitian painter Wilson Bigaud in 1986, Demme made the first of many trips to Haiti. The director learned Creole, befriended many local artists, and became a regular at the Centre d’Art, which showcased some of Haiti’s greatest artistic masterpieces. In 1997, Demme curated “Island on Fire,” an exhibition in Manhattan that featured over 100 Haitian paintings from his collection.

A weeklong auction preview will be held at Material Culture from March 22-29. Haitian paintings and sculpture will be displayed by region, alongside works by American self-taught artists such as Purvis Young, Minnie Evans, and Walter Ellison. Demme’s collection also includes Americana wood carvings, tramp art, weathervanes, and canes. 

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The Brooklyn Museum, which holds a celebrated decorative arts collection, is currently presenting a selection of rarely seen American and European quilts. In fact, only one of the 30-plus quilts on display has been on public view in the past 30 years.

The exhibition titled Workt by Hand: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts aims to explore the impact of feminist scholarship on the ways in which historical quilts have been and are currently viewed, contextualized, and interpreted. The exhibition goes beyond the connection of quilting to feminism and explores the medium of quilting as an art form and as an aspect of material culture with meaningful social and political undertones.

The quilts on view at the Brooklyn Museum span two centuries and feature iconic designs and techniques including the log cabin style, the Amish sunshine and shadow style, and crazy quilts, which were fashionable during the late 19th century. A quilt by Mary A. Stinson that is considered one of finest examples of a crazy quilt is included in Workt by Hand.

Workt by Hand aims to shed light on the skill, craftsmanship, thought, and energy that went into quilting; something that was frequently overlooked in a male-dominated society. The exhibition, which is on view through September 15, 2013, includes photographs, newspaper clippings, sample pieces of quilts, and other ephemera relating to the history of quilts.

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