Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction

8 / 17

Textile students in the Applied-Arts Department of Zurich’s Trade School, with teachers Alice Frey-Amsler and Sophie Taeuber-Arp (standing, at center)

Photographer unknown. Textile students in the Applied-Arts Department of Zurich’s Trade School, with teachers Alice Frey-Amsler and Sophie Taeuber-Arp (standing, at center). 1925

Archiv, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Zurich

Curator, Anne Umland: In this case, we have one of two publications that Taeuber-Arp wrote during her time as a teacher. One of her students remarked that her classes were different from any others taught at the school, that in the textile class, for example, there was “not a loom in sight,” and that she encouraged her students to go back to the rudiments of line and shape, and from those elementary building blocks, encouraged them to come up with something completely new.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp (read by curator, Walburga Krupp): If you want to practice designing . . . draw a square and try to divide it in the most natural and simple way. . . . Then . . . fill in the various fields with . . . two or three pure colours. Try the same thing with a circle.

Larissa Raphael: She says at one point that “It's only when we go into ourselves and attempt to be entirely true to ourselves, will we succeed in making things of value.” And I love that idea for opening up the world of art to students.

When she was teaching, I imagine she was surrounded by so many different creative people, working in different ways, using different techniques, and that all must have influenced her work and allowed her to move with such ease from one thing to the other. Teaching is about gathering new thoughts and gathering new ways of doing things and new ways of looking at the world.

0:00