Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction

Cushion panel

Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Cushion panel. 1916

Wool on canvas. 20 7/8 × 20 1/2" (53 × 52 cm). Museum für Gestaltung, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Zurich. Decorative Arts Collection. Courtesy Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, ZHdK

Curator, Anne Umland: Sophie Taeuber-Arp was one of the 20th century's most versatile, multidisciplinary, abstract artists. My name is Anne Umland. I'm a curator at the Museum of Modern Art in the Department of Painting and Sculpture, and I'm one of the co-curators of the exhibition Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction.

Conservator, Lynda Zycherman: Her skill is astounding, in so many different mediums. You have beadwork, needlework, design, drawing, painting, textile embroideries.

Conservator, Annie Wilker: Taeuber-Arp was constantly thinking about her compositions and never just settled on creating an exact copy.

Curatorial Assistant, Laura Braverman: She's just full of surprises.

Anne Umland: The cushion panel is one of those works that you can look at in multiple ways. It was designed as a functional object, but it's also a compelling visual with its bright colors and textured surfaces.

Taeuber-Arp wrote about her desire to make "living things." And you can think of that word "living" in the sense of making works that are alive to her own time. It's also abstract art that could be tied to the moving body, to objects to be manipulated or moved, to spatial environments, all are connotations of the way that her abstraction is alive.

Art historian and critic, Amah-Rose Abrams: She didn't see the barriers between different mediums. It's her flexibility that I feel is very radical.

Educator, Larissa Raphael: Sophie Taeuber-Arp's idea of the role of art is much bigger than having works in a museum. It is connected to joy. It's about openness and I think that's something I feel in her work, is a feeling of humanity.

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