Old Quilts Broadside by Claire Van Vliet - SOLD!


A limited edition broadside. Designed and printed by Amanda Degener and Claire Van Vliet. Co-published by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and the Janus Press. 1989. Edition of 140.

Old Quilts
You come upon them sometimes folded away into trunks lined with paper, fragile and dry as blue hydrangea, or you find them stuffed in a wad at the base of a wardrobe, old quilts, color reduced to an idea, stained with love or death, nothing that can be rubbed away.

They appear as interstitial tissue linking us to someone else’s labor. Sometimes, whole pieces fall away no matter how carefully you take them up— they shred into nothing, leaving thin ribbons, a ribbon, a space, a nothing as if, in serious conversation, the other falls silent, leaves it up to you. And you could, in a dark mood, say that’s all any of it comes to, shreds, fluff, fragments, but that is not the mood that connects, not what makes you spread the quilts to light when you find them cast away. You hesitate before brooming spiders’ webs, you save letters, pin up children’s crayon drawings, lay out the best silver every day. Beauty lies not only in the making of a thing but in its use, not in its preservation but in its wearing down.

Artist Bio

Born in Ottawa, Canada, Claire Van Vliet spent her early childhood in the Stonehenge area of England, where her father served in the Air Force. “We had an English nanny, and she took us on a long walk every day even if the weather was bad…so I was in the landscape a lot. I suspect that those walks were most formative,” remembers the artist. Such an early exposure to nature heightened Van Vliet’s interest in the great outdoors and influenced her desire to celebrate the landscape in her art. The artist lost both parents before she reached the age fourteen. She was raised by an aunt in San Diego, California. An exceptionally gifted child, she graduated from high school at fifteen, then attended San Diego State College and received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate University in 1954. In 1958, she moved to Philadelphia to work as an apprentice with John Anderson at Pickering Press. Her first book of engravings, The Oxford Odyssey, was published in 1955, the same year that Van Vliet began Janus Press. The Janus Press embodies the age-old tradition of book-making yet it also experiments with innovative book formats and structures. To date, the press has published more than one hundred limited-edition artists’ books and Van Vliet is currently working on a catalogue, Janus Press—50 Years to accompany exhibitions of her work at the National Gallery of Art Library, Washington, DC and the Grolier Club, New York from 2006 to 2007. In addition to creating and publishing artist books, Van Vliet has executed drawings, prints, watercolors, large paintings, and monotypes on pulp paper. She has lectured at universities and museums, led workshops, and received many honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989.