An American Rug
Evansville Museum of Arts, Science, and History, Evansville, Indiana.Accession Number 1975.110
"May Wilson as a Rug" and "An American Rug" both use carpet shapes that are symmetrical only along the long axis, these are usually considered to be prayer rugs, with the prayer niche pointing towards Mecca. From a painting perspective, they are both wonderful paintings, but from a rug perspective I especially enjoy "An American Rug." It uses a border motif figure which flashes back and forth between what is border and what is ground. You also encounter some interesting conditions in the corners, this happens often in carpets and is always a challenge for the designers and weavers. (Christopher Andrews, letter to George Deem, March 4, 2007. Christopher Andrews: www.classicalcarpets.com/catalog1.htm)
An American Rug is one of the earliest large compositions in which Deem combined images from different periods and media. He combines George Caleb Bingham's quintessential nineteenth-century American genre painting Raftsmen Playing Cards (1847; Saint Louis Art Museum), with Jean Simon Chardin's Still Life with Teapot, Grapes, Chestnuts, & Pear (1764; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) and an illustration from a popular American magazine within a border reminiscent of patterns used in decorative objects, such as rugs. In doing so, Deem has appropriated both form and content. (David Dearinger, exhibition wall text,George Deem: The Art of Art History, The Boston Athenaeum, April 11 - September 1, 2012).
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