Quilt Notes: CENTURY OF PROGRESS, faithful to its name, presents an early 20th century, highly modernistic idea, that is, to simply work some bold, random rectangles into a composition, creating an abstraction of abstraction itself. About as "modern" as one could get when it was designed, and even now, a breakthrough. CENTURY OF PROGRESS celebrates the 1933 World's Fair, which was held in Chicago, to celebrate the city's centennial, and which Cabot likely attended. (Compare with WORLD'S FAIR PUZZLE.) In her column in the Chicago Tribune (July 21, 1934), Cabot says:|
"CENTURY OF PROGRESS is an unusual pieced block which, when combined with plain blocks creates an illusion of gorgeous panoramas of the World's Fair. The Exposition colors have been successfully captured in cloth in the blue, green, chartreus-yellow, and rich mulberry shades."
The World's Fair emblem, with the Exposition colors Cabot is describing, is illustrated at Wikipedia. So we might borrow from it, as Cabot suggests for inspiration, or choose our own color combinations. One of the great modernist masters of color work in simple squares and rectangles is Paul Klee (1879-1940), and a fascinatingly helpful artist to borrow a color scheme from, especially for this quilt. See his Neue Harmonie illustrated right, painted in 1936, just two years after the debut of CENTURY OF PROGRESS in Cabot's column.
Again, not following Cabot's instructions, if you like, flip the block randomly as a tiling design. The block itself has no symmetry, quite beautifully, and the tiling really needs to be just as uncontrolled. As illustrated in the design above, upper right, the arrangement for this rendering was created by first flipping the block (top to bottom), to create the top row, and then the two blocks side by side were flipped together (this time, right to left) for the second row. No thought was put into it, just intuitive. Of course once the random ordering starts to tile, it develops its own symmetry and harmony and no longer appears random at all. But that transformation can be quite wonderful. See below.