I’ve written before about my shock and grief over Kathreen’s death. The online sewing community lost a trailblazer, a visionary and a friend who we’ll always miss. Please continue to hold her family in your hearts–their lives will never be the same.

But this blog tour isn’t about mourning a loss, but rather celebrating Kathreen Ricketson’s legacy, part of which is this amazing book she wrote, recently released by Stash. I received it about a week ago, at first flipping through quickly to see the quilts, then sitting down to slowly read the content.  In Brave New Quilts, Kathreen, who has a background in visual arts, breaks down 12 different 20th century art movements in a way that’s very easy to understand. Along with each chapter is a quilt pattern that is consistent with that movement’s aesthetic.  The information is fascinating, the quilts are amazing, and the design principles are inspiring and approachable.

Over the weekend my family took advantage of the Smithsonian’s Museum Day Live, visiting the Portland Art Museum. Throughout the day I noticed the influence that Kathreen’s words had on the way I was processing the work I saw. Although I studied Art History for several years in college, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about and connecting what I knew about visual arts to quilting. As I walked through the museum, however, I was looking at paintings and seeing quilts, I was reading the names of artists and making connections to many well-known modern quilters.

Although Kathreen’s book doesn’t contain examples of the art of each period, in homage to the spirit of  Brave New Quilts, I thought I’d do a little research and share some inspiring art from just one of the 12 movements that are discussed in the book–Bauhaus. I hope that by reviewing this work, you’ll recognize the influence this art movement–from nearly a century ago –has had on the modern quilts of today, and perhaps be moved to make an art-inspired quilt of your own. (The quilt on the cover of the book, Weave, is Kathreen’s take on Bauhaus, and happens to be one of my favorites.)


The Bauhaus was an art school founded in Germany in 1919. The objective was to unify art and design, so students studied all aspects of fine art as well as architecture and manufacturing technologies, learning to produce art and objects that were both beautiful and practical. (The essence of quilt-making!)

From Brave New Quilts:

The Bauhaus weaving workshop, headed up by Gunta Stolzl, was very productive and radically modern. Texture, line, shape, and color became the main design elements. These simplified and functional geometric shapes are what the Bauhaus is most known for today–clean lines, precision, and the absence of ornamentation.

A few of the most well-known and influential artists of the 20th century were instructors at the Bauhaus.

Josef Albers

Homage to a Square (Part of a  series. Check it out!)

Bundled – Gebundelt, 1925

Skyscrapers on Transparent Yellow, 1929

Learn more about Josef Albers

Gunta Stolzl

Design for a Carpet, 1926

Design for a Carpet, 1926

Jacquard wall hanging, 5 Choirs, 1928

Learn more about Gunta Stolzl

Wassily Kandinsky

Farbstudie Quadrate, 1913

Several Circles, 1926

Sketch for Picture XVI The Great Tower of Kiev, 1924

Learn more about Wassily Kandinsky

Paul Klee

New Harmony, 1936

Maibild, 1925

Highways and Byways, 1929

Learn more about Paul Klee

Theo Van Doesburg

Counter Composition XIV, 1925

Counter Composition, 1929

Composition VIII–The Cow, 1918

Learn more about Theo Van Doesburg

Anni Albers

Although not an instructor at the Bauhaus, Anni Albers was a student there when she met and married Josef Albers. I ran across these pieces, created much later than the  “Bauhaus period”, which I thought were amazingly relevant when put within the context of modern quilt design.

Second Movement II, 1978

Floating, 1980

DR XVI (B), 1974

 Learn more about Anni Albers

I encourage you to check out Kathreen’s book, Brave New Quilts, (we sell it in our book section here) and perhaps do a little art exploration of your own.  I know it has definitely changed the way I see quilt design. Also, be sure to follow the rest of the Brave New Quilts Legacy Tour to read other bloggers’ reflections on Kathreen’s life and her final work.

Tuesday 10/1 Heather Jones
Wedneday 10/2 Kristin Link
Thursday 10/3 Maya Donenfeld
Friday 10/4 Alexandra Smith
Monday 10/7 Sonya Philip
Tuesday 10/8 Ellen Luckett Baker
Wedneday 10/9 Andrea Jenkins
Thursday 10/10 Shannon Cook
Friday 10/11 Mimi Kirchner
Monday 10/14 Cheryl Arkison

Please comment! I’d love to read what you think about the influence of fine art on modern quilts, whether it be some of the pieces from the Bauhaus artists above, or a completely different art movement. Do any modern quilters come to mind when you look at the work above? Do you ever look to art for quilting inspiration? Also, feel free to express your thoughts about Kathreen’s life and legacy.