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Taeuber-Arp review ‘paintings pop before your eyes’

Taeuber-Arp review ‘paintings pop before your eyes’

Taeuber-Arp review ‘paintings pop before your eyes’

Little rectangles scurry across the page, becoming figures. They are urgent and precise, and they could fall apart at any time. Unseen forces cause colored rectangles to stretch away from the horizontal and vertical.

Full of delight and surprise

The Tate Modern’s Sophie Taeuber-Arp retrospective is understated but full of delight and surprise. The show spans the whole range of the artist’s work and was organized in collaboration with the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where a larger version will open in November.

It also functions as a corrective.

Taeuber-Arp worked in fabrics, constructed marionettes, designed interiors, furniture, stained glass, and costumes, bags, and necklaces, in addition to her paintings, reliefs, and sculpture. Her work as an applied artist (though she and we may disagree) has been frequently disregarded in displays of her work.

Taeuber-Arp review ‘paintings pop before your eyes’

Taeuber-life Arp’s was full of twists and turns.

She studied textiles and sculpting after being born in Switzerland in 1889. In 1915, she met the Alsatian sculptor Jean (Hans) Arp, who would become her husband. Taeuber-Arp, a former student of Rudolf von Laban, found herself in the thick of things, hanging out with Tristan Tzara at Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire, dancing in a costume she designed to Hugo Ball’s Dadaist nonsense poetry, championed by Marcel Duchamp, and pals with Sonia Delaunay.

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Adolf Ziegler, Hitler’s favorite painter

Adolf Ziegler, Hitler’s favorite painter and organizer of the 1937 Degenerate Art show, was an early boyfriend. She eventually became friends with Gabrièle Buffet-Picabia, the first wife of painter Francis Picabia and the organizer of Samuel Beckett’s resistance group. For many years, Taeuber-work Arp’s was overshadowed by that of her husband, much like Sonia Delaunay’s work was dominated by that of her husband, Robert.

Taeuber-Arp review ‘paintings pop before your eyes’

Geometric abstractions

Taeuber-early Arp’s painted geometric abstractions go hand in hand with her little embroideries, which spun out into small bags of beaded thread and cloth that carried on her abstractions in various ways. She created a set of marionettes for a show on psychoanalysis in 1918. Stags, soldiers, a parrot, a person dubbed Dr Oedipus Complex, and another, a magician named Freudanalyticus, were among the dressed and painted jointed cylinders, cones, and tubes that constituted its characters. Their ingenuity hasn’t waned.

Her works is interconnected in every way

Dadaist wood heads turned on a lathe followed. They stare at us, wonky-eyed and oblivious but aware. Her work is interconnected in every way. For a bar in Strasbourg and a house with stained glass windows, collages were used to create textile works, and textiles were used to create paintings or interior designs. Her stained glass and furniture design have a harsh design and strong color that nearly resembles minimalist work, yet there is always a precarious, dynamic equilibrium at work.

Taeuber-Arp review ‘paintings pop before your eyes’

The Arp`s poetry

The apparent movement of the forms on their surfaces electrifies the blank grounds where circles meet and part. Her reliefs, which feature truncated cones and cylinders (some forms reoccur at certain points in her career), encourage us to look at them from multiple angles as well as approaching them directly. She started experimenting with compound curved shapes and lines, which she expressed in shells and tangles of undulating lines, some of which were used to illustrate a book of Arp’s poetry.

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Like ideas in motion

It’s one thing to use words. Her lines cross and recross, stop short, loop away, get intricate, tail off, and start all over again, like ideas in motion, poems without words. Hers was an art full of unfinished business and boundless possibilities. Taeuber-Arp was exiled from France in 1942 and died in Switzerland one night in January 1943, poisoned by carbon monoxide from a malfunctioning stove. Her art was already dynamic and rich. Its specific influence (conscious or unconscious) can be found in postwar Brazilian neo-concretism, Bridget Riley’s paintings, Tai Shani’s sculptures, and who knows where else.

Taeuber-Arp review ‘paintings pop before your eyes’

 

 

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