Emerging in the late 1960s, Grossen sought to relinquish the traditional tools and methods of textile and fiber art, instead utilizing a free-hand braiding and knotting technique allowing for greater freedom and spontaneity in her process.
Grossen quickly began exploring material mass, scale, and repetition to attain three-dimensionality and break the paradigms of her medium, which had reductively defined the genre as decorative.
Curator Jenelle Porter describes her practice: “Grossen’s knotted and plaited rope sculptures eschew the four edges that delimited traditional tapestry, and boldly enter the third dimension by hanging from the ceiling or unfolding directly onto the floor. Grossen pushes beyond this initial rupture with the rectangle and the wall to explore the weight of her material and its response to gravity, an investigation that aligns her art with broader artistic debates taking place in New York and elsewhere.” 
At an imposing thirty feet wide, Contact III is composed of seventeen knotted sections of rich, orange manila rope and is the largest in the Contact series – one of Grossen’s earliest explorations of vertical repetitions. Hovering above the floor, the suspended mass is a paradoxical exercise that simultaneously employs and defies gravity, creating both tension in the fiber and an impression of lightness, fluidity, and grace.
Described by curator Nancy Neumann as a “fringe under a large microscope,” the installation was originally created for Fiber Works: The Americas and Japan, a group exhibition on textile art at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo in 1977. The work was later included in the exhibition OLD TRADITIONS / NEW DIRECTIONS curated by Rebecca A.T. Stevens at the Textile Museum, Washington, DC in 1981. Contact III will be one of the focal points of Grossen’s upcoming solo exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, in the fall of 2016.
Françoise Grossen (b. 1943 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland) lives and works in New York City. Recent group exhibitions include Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016, currently on view at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles. Past exhibitions include Fiber: Sculpture 1960–Present, which was held at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH and the Des Moines Art Center, IA (2014–2015). Grossen’s work has been acquired by international public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; and the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia. Grossen is the recipient of The 2016 American Craft Council Award. Jenelle Porter, Fiber: Sculpture 1960–Present (Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 2014), 198.
Press release courtesy Blum & Poe.
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Françoise Grossen’s career is undergoing a renaissance: the first U.S. survey of her work was held last year at Blum & Poe Gallery in New York, followed by exhibitions in Los Angeles, where the 73-year-old Swiss artist was a student before moving to Manhattan, in 1969. She began by working on the loom in the tradition of Anni Albers, but...