Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review: Sophie Taeuber-Arp at Tate Modern from 15 July to 17 October 2021

Exhibition Review: Sophie Taeuber-Arp at Tate Modern from 15 July to 17 October 2021

Tate Modern’s presents a major exhibition of the work of Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889-1943), this exhibition is the first in the UK to trace Taeuber-Arp’s as a painter, architect, teacher, writer, and designer of textiles, marionettes and interiors.

The exhibition brings together over 200 objects from collections across Europe and America, and provides evidence that Taeuber-Arp was one of the most innovative artists and designers of the 20th-century avant-garde challenging the borders between abstract art, design and craft.

After studying fine and applied arts in Munich, Sophie Taeuber-Arp began her career in Zurich, which became an international hub for the avant-garde during the First World War.

She became a successful textile practitioner and teacher whilst experimenting with non-figurative art. Her use of geometric shapes and grids plus the use of vibrant bold colours helped her to develop her own particular style which decorative artworks including beaded bags, jewellery, rugs, pillowcases and tapestries.

By the end of the war, Taeuber-Arp had become active within Zurich dada, the short-lived but influential artistic movement which sought to integrate abstraction and absurdity. The exhibition features her turned-wood ‘Dada Heads’.

She also embraced the performance side of dada, dancing at the legendary Cabaret Voltaire and creating marionettes for the avant-garde interpretation of the play ‘King Stag’. All of the original marionettes are on display at Tate Modern in the exhibition.

In the 1920s Taeuber-Arp explored the possibility of working on architecture and interior design for private houses and public buildings. The exhibition includes designs and furniture from these projects, such as the commission for the Aubette, a modernist entertainment complex in Strasbourg, created in collaboration with Arp and Theo Van Doesburg.

The commercial success of her architectural practice enabled Taeuber-Arp to design her own studio-house near Paris, which would become a focal point for international intellectuals such as Tristan Tzara, Max Ernst and James Joyce.

Taeuber-Arp’s involvement in the Parisian art scene prompted a return to painting in the late 1920s. She experimented with primary colours and abstract forms, going on to develop a series of compositions of rectangles and circles in the 1930s.

Fleeing Paris at the outbreak of the Second World War, Taeuber-Arp turned to drawing, the final room of the exhibition brings together the works she made while on the move and in exile, created before her tragic accidental death in 1943 aged 53.

This fascinating exhibition illustrates the considerable talents of Sophie Taeuber-Arp, unlike many artists of the period Taeuber-Arp explored practical applications of her artwork in many different types of media. These decorative artworks and the artist’s commercial nous may be one of the reasons that Taeuber-Arp is largely unknown. Many artists that bought together arts, crafts and fine art were often dismissed by the art world as designers not artists.

This exhibition, hopefully will address some of these narrow minded views of what Art is ? And promote the creative talents of a woman who followed her own artistic path to great effect.

For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate website here

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