Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889–1943) was one of the most multitalented of modern artists, creating profoundly innovative work across many disciplines. This exhibition traces her career’s trajectory: from applied arts teacher, participant in the Dada movement, and maker of textiles and objects; to designer of murals, stained glass windows, furniture, interiors, and buildings; to painter-sculptor, magazine editor, and early champion of geometric abstraction. For Taeuber-Arp, abstraction was always connected to an everyday lived reality in which objects were to be used and manipulated, spaces to be moved about in, and artworks to be looked at and experienced. Her creations responded to their time and place of making, in keeping with Taeuber-Arp’s expressed ambition to make “living things” in “a new style that is fitting for us.” Her fluid movement between genres, disciplines, and creative roles makes her especially relevant for contemporary artists, while her work proposes a more open-ended and inclusive way of thinking about the history of modern art.
Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction is the first exhibition in the United States in nearly 40 years to chart the full sweep of the artist’s multifaceted career. It features some 300 works, including textiles, applied arts objects, marionettes, interior and architectural designs, furniture, paintings and relief sculptures, works on paper, photographs, and a selection of printed matter. The exhibition aims to advance our understanding of Taeuber-Arp’s distinctive cross-pollinating approach to abstraction, and to explore the different ways in which her work challenged the boundaries separating fine art from craft and design.
Prior to its MoMA presentation, the exhibition was shown at the Kunstmuseum Basel, March 19 – June 20, 2021, and at Tate Modern in London (July 13 – October 17, 2021.