The 58th Venice Biennale, May You Live In Interesting Times (11 May–24 November 2019), certainly benefitted from low expectations, given the lacklustre curatorial of the previous edition, when different segments of the show were conceptually framed with titles like 'Pavilion of Joys and Fears' and 'Pavilion of Colours'. Add to this the...
Hong Kong-based artist Zheng Bo's social, ecological, and community-engaged art practice has, in recent years, focused on moving beyond a human-centred perspective to an all-inclusive, multi-species approach. He takes up marginalised plants and communities of people as subjects in his large-scale interventions, which reintroduce wildness into...
The weather was clement for the annual Auckland Art Fair (2–5 May 2019), which was again at The Cloud on Queens Wharf. This year's edition was a get-together of 41 galleries, mostly from around Auckland and across New Zealand, with 5 spaces hailing from Sydney and the rest from Cook Islands (Bergman Gallery), Hobart (Michael Bugelli Gallery),...
Blum & Poe announces a survey exhibition of sculpture by Swiss-born artist Françoise Grossen. On view will be works from 1967-1991 including Swan (1967), loaned from the Museum of Arts and Design, New York and originally shown in the groundbreaking 1969 exhibition Wall Hangings at the Museum of Modern Art. This is Grossen's first solo-presentation with Blum & Poe and her first survey in the United States.
Emerging in the late 1960s alongside contemporaries such as Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney, 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. Works appear simultaneously weightless and weighted, both masculine and feminine, all the while reinforcing their objecthood.
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. (Jenelle Porter, Fiber: Sculpture 1960-Present [Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, 2014], 198)
Having studied architecture and later textile design at Kunstgewerbeschule Basel and at UCLA with Bernard Kester in the 1960s, Grossen became keenly aware of her ability to bring fiber sculpture into unexpected and experimental realms (hanging from the ceiling, draped on the ground or over pedestals, floating in bodies of water). Grossen's interest in the weight and physical composition of her chosen material is evident in her earliest hanging manila rope sculptures, Study for Embarcadero (1970) and Sisyphe (1974), as well as in later hand-painted and dyed Metamorphosis (1987-1990) works. Humble materials, drawn from nature and manipulated in the studio, are coaxed into elegantly intertwined and draping forms, elevating the utilitarian to something extraordinary.
Françoise Grossen (b. 1943 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland) lives and works in New York City. Recent group 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, Des Moines, IA (2014-2015). Her work is in international public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Smithsonian Institution, Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC; and the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Installation view, 2015
Blum & Poe, New York
Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe
Human figures seem to lurk in almost all of Françoise Grossen‘s folded, knotted, and coiled rope sculptures. They are resolutely abstract, the elaborate assembly of their drooping and dangling materials inviting close inspection, but seen from a distance their proportions, silhouettes, and the weight with which many of them hang a little...
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