Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction (MoMA)
Briony Fer, Medea Hoch, Laura Braverman, Leah Dickerman, Mark Franko, Maria Gough, Jodi Hauptman, Charlotte Healy a.o.
Kunstmiseum Basel & MoMA, 2021
A definitive survey on the Dada participant and pioneer of abstraction between art and craft, spanning her textiles, marionettes, stained glass, paintings and more
Accompanying the first retrospective of Taeuber-Arp’s work in the United States in 40 years, Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction is a comprehensive survey of this multifaceted abstract artist’s innovative and wide-ranging body of work. Her background in the applied arts and dance, her involvement in the Zurich Dada movement and her projects for architectural spaces were essential to her development of a uniquely versatile and vibrant abstract vocabulary. Through her artistic output and various professional alliances, Taeuber-Arp consistently challenged the historically constructed boundaries separating fine art from craft and design.
This richly illustrated catalog explores the artist’s interdisciplinary and cross-pollinating approach to abstraction through some 400 works, including textiles, beadwork, polychrome marionettes, architectural and interior designs, stained glass windows, works on paper, paintings and relief sculptures. It also features 15 essays that examine the full sweep of Taeuber-Arp’s career. Arranged into six chapters that follow the exhibition’s sections, these essays trace the progression of Taeuber-Arp’s creative production both chronologically and thematically. A comprehensive illustrated chronology, the first essay on Taeuber-Arp’s materials and techniques, and an exhibition checklist based on new research and analysis detail the expansive nature of Taeuber-Arp’s production.
Sophie Taeuber-Arp was born in 1889 in Davos, Switzerland, and trained at the interdisciplinary Debschitz School in Munich. In 1914, she began a successful applied arts practice in Zurich, where she also taught textile design and participated in the Dada movement. Starting in the late 1920s, Taeuber-Arp completed several architectural and interior design projects, most significantly the Aubette entertainment complex in Strasbourg. When she moved to Paris in 1929, she turned her attention to abstract paintings and painted wood reliefs. During the Nazi occupation, Taeuber-Arp spent her final years in the South of France, and died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in 1943.