Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Oval Composition with Abstract Motifs, 1922, Sophie Taeuber-Arp

A couple days ago I wrote about a husband-wife team of landscape painters--Marion and Elmer Wachtel (the second item below). If ever there were polar opposites it would be the Wachtels and Sophie Taeuber-Arp and her husband Jean Arp. In terms of their art, though they lived and worked during the same decades of the 20th-century, that's about where any similarities begin and end. The Wachtel's were American artists while Sophie Taeuber was born in Davos (eastern) Switzerland. Jean Arp was born in Strasbourg (now near the far eastern border of France, but in 1886 a part of the area known as Alsace-Lorraine). That's about as close too Switzerland as you can get without crossing the border (he called himself Hans in German, and Jean when speaking French).

Composition of Circles and Overlapping Angles,
1930, Sophie Taeuber-Arp.
Sophie Taeuber-Arp was a leading figure in the Zürich and Paris Dada movement. She pushed the limits of abstraction in paintings, sculpture, and textiles. She was also something of a dancer and set designer for Dada performances. She was known as one of the foremost artists of geometric abstraction, very much like the style of today's doodle. Abstract art is often denigrated as "looking as it a child could do it." Sophie Taeuber-Arp showed that abstract art was, in fact, closely related to child’s play. Such art is often said to have originated in the strongly spiritualist ideas of artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian. Yet Sophie Taeuber-Arp invented, along with Hans (Jean) Arp, a different kind of abstraction that accepts chance and finds its roots in the physical rather than spiritual world, much like a utopian game.

Dada with a feminine touch.

Dancer, 1917-24,
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Born in 1889 as Sophie Henriette Gertrude Taeuber, she left home at eighteen to study textile design in Munich. Returning to Zurich in 1915, she began to produce non-representational paintings, which she termed "concrete” paintings. The paintings were influenced by her training in textile design, as well as Cubism. From 1916 through 1928, Taeuber-Arp taught textile design at the Zurich School of Arts and Crafts. At about the same time, Sophie met her future husband, Jean Arp, a French sculptor, painter, and collagist.

Sophie and Jean Arp with Sophie's famous marionettes.
The pair famously created vast, abstract multimedia works under the name of Duo Collages. Sophie and Jean Arp moved to Meudon, near Paris in 1928. Together with her husband and artist Theo van Doesburg, Sophie Taeuber-Arp received a commission to design the interior of the Café de l’Aubette in Strasbourg, France (destroyed during WW II). It was one of the first modernist spaces to unify form and function.

Café de l'Aubette, 2014-17, Strasbourg (reconstructed).
The café commission marked the beginning of the most productive period in Taeuber-Arp's life. She exhibited her work throughout Europe while Jean Arp befriended the celebrated Surrealist, Max Ernst. Along with Sophie, the three of them are considered founding members of the anarchic Dada movement, which celebrated the avant-garde, conceptual approach to creating art. Such work often resulted in unorthodox materials appearing in abstract, unusual compositions. Taeuber-Arp and her husband fled to southern France when the Nazis invaded Paris in 1940. They returned to Zurich in 1942. Sophie Taeuber-Arp died there in 1943. Jean Arp died in Basel, Switzerland, in 1966 at the age of eighty.

Relief at Three Levels, 1937 or 1938, Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Marionettes by Sophie Taeuber-Arp in 1918 for Konig Hirsch


No comments:

Post a Comment