Gerald Roy and Paul Pilgrim began collecting quilts in the 1960s. As fine art majors and then art teachers and gallery owners in the San Francisco Bay area during the 1960s and early 1970s, they were immersed in a culture that questioned the status quo and broke down the hierarchical boundaries between craft and fine art. Shortly after they began to collect quilts for their gallery in Oakland they were drawn to the sophisticated color relationships found in many American quilts. Later, their growing appreciation of the rich history of quilts led to exploration of quilts as social and cultural artifacts, although their collecting was always guided by a formalist aesthetic influenced by their own training as artists.

Now numbering more than 1200 quilts, the Pilgrim/Roy collection is recognized as one of the finest in the world. While some examples fit within the standard canon of quilt history, the majority are unique expressions of the quilter’s art. This exhibition explores the collection with a focus on color and pattern, while at the same time revealing the growth of Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy as collectors.

This exhibition of approximately 58 quilts is the first devoted to the Pilgrim/Roy collection and its development. It is divided into eight sections, each exploring a different aspect color and pattern. These sections will include Vibrations, Mixtures, Harmony, Gradation, Contrast, Variations, Optical Illusions and Singular Visions. All of the quilts will come from the MFA collection or from the Pilgrim/Roy collection in Warner, NH.

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