Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction

Geometric Forms and Letters (beaded bag)

Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Geometric Forms and Letters (beaded bag). 1920

Glass beads, thread, cord, and fabric. 6 13/16 × 5 1/8" (17.3 × 13 cm) flat. Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin. Photo Alex Delfanne

Curatorial Assistant, Laura Braverman: We know that Taeuber-Arp’s beaded bags were sold in specialized shops for a wealthy clientele and contributed significantly to the artist’s income at the time.

Taeuber-Arp made preliminary designs and she then intricately knitted or crocheted colored glass and also metal beads in mostly abstract shapes. Throughout her career, she moves motifs from one work to another. As you can see in this bag, there's a little head, which comes back in the upper right corner of an embroidery, displayed nearby. As the bag's wearer walked or gestured, the bag would have twirled and rotated. And when the strings were pulled to close it, the bag's shape would have changed. And so if you think of it in relation to the flat, rectangular embroidery, the bag offers a picture in the round, meant to be seen in different contexts.

Associate Educator, Larissa Raphael: There's something about having a lot of different techniques at your fingertips that really allowed her to be able to express what she wanted.

My name is Larissa Raphael. I'm the Associate Educator of School and Teacher Programs.

We have ideas ingrained in us about some mediums having more value, such as paintings and sculptures, but I think it’s important not to prioritize one kind of creative expression over another. Sophie Taeuber-Arp really sees art-making as being an intrinsic part of being human, and I think that's really an inclusive way of looking at art.

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