New York

Rosie Lee Tompkins

Peter Blum Gallery

The decorative arts are noticed more widely now and then in fine-art circles, effectively deflating categorical hierarchies of media and genres—having been brought into the museum context to widen the scope of modernism so that it might be thought more as a history of making. Hierarchy-busting though they may be, the place of craft in non–craft museums is often attributable to how they nudge the internal rules that govern their own making. As an example, just this winter the Whitney Museum featured quilts from the African American community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, showing about sixty examples of gorgeous quilts pieced together from worn-out denim jeans, bright strips of cotton, faded grain sacks, and scraps of Sears Roebuck corduroy. Where many quilters would aim for straight seams, these women seem to prize intuition and ingenuity. The works’ presence on museum walls never eclipsed their

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