Sophie Taeuber-Arp

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photo of Sophie Taeuber, c. 1903

Sophie Taeuber-Arp (19 January 1889 – 13 January 1943) was a Swiss artist, painter, sculptor, textile designer, furniture and interior designer, architect and dancer. She is considered one of the most important artists of concrete art and geometric abstraction of the 20th century. Sophie Taeuber-Arp did not sign or date her work until the last two years of her life, and she has left very few writings.


Sophie Taeuber, 1920: 'Composition Dada / Dada-Komposition'
Sophie Taeuber, 1922: 'Oval Composition with Abstract Motifs', textile
Sophie Taeuber, 1927: 'design for foyer-bar of L'Aubette'', gouache on paper
Sophie Taeuber, 1931: 'Composition', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Museum of Art in Lódź
  • Elementary Forms in a Vertical-Horizontal Composition / Formes élémentaires en composition verticale-horizontale
    • title of her work, 1917 - gouache, (29 x 24 cm). Stiftung Hans Arp und Sophie Taeuber-Arp e.V., Rolandswerth, inv. 003.550
  • Composition in Dense, Polychrome, Quadrangular Spots / Composition en taches quadrangulaires, polychromes, denses
    • title of her work, 1921
  • I very much enjoyed working on the drawing, so much so that I made a whole series of small watercolors that I can use at any time for application on embroidered purses, pillows, rugs and wall hangings.
    • Quote in a letter to her sister Erika Schlegel, 22 February, 1922; from: Today is Tomorrow, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, ed. Thomas Schmutz; Aargauer Kunsthaus, and Zurich: Scheidegger & Spiess, 2014, p. 221
    • Taeuber describes creating a series of watercolors that she intends to rework across carpets, bags, pillows, and wall covers
  • ..the wish to produce beautiful things — when that wish is true and profound — falls together with [man's] striving for perfection.
    • In Taeuber-Arp's article 'Remarks on the Instruction of Ornamental Design', in 'Bulletin de Tunion suisse des mattresses professionelles et menageres/ Korrespondenzblott' (Zurich), Jahrg. 14, no. 11 / 12 (Dec. 31 , 1922), p. 156
  • The intrinsic decorative urge should not be eradicated. It is one of humankind's deep-rooted, primordial urges. Primitive people decorated their implements and cult objects with a desire to beautify and enhance.. is a sense emanating from the urge for perfection and creative accomplishment.
  • I think I have spoken enough to you about serious things; which is why I speak [now] of something to which I attribute great value, still too little appreciated — gaiety. It is gaiety, basically, that allows us to have no fear before the problems of life and to find a natural solution to them.

Quotes about Sophie Taeuber-Arp

  • I met Sophie Taeuber in Zurich in 1915. Even then she already knew how to give direct and palpable shape to her inner reality. In those days this kind of art was called 'abstract art'. Now it is known as 'concrete art,' for nothing is more concrete than the psychic reality it expresses. Like music this art is tangible inner reality she was already dividing the surface of a watercolor into squares and rectangles which she juxtaposed horizontally and perpendicularly. She constructed her painting like a work of masonry. The colors are luminous, going from rawest yellow to deep red or..
    • Arp, c. 1949; in 'Sophie Taeuber-Arp', Hans Arp; in Arp on Arp: Poems, Essays, Memories, ed. Marcel Jean, transl. Joachim Neugroschel; Viking Press, New York 1972, p. 222
  • At most anytime you would find them [Sophie and Hans Arp ] busy with gluing, stitching, cutting, weaving or building marionettes, which they would let dangle from hooks in the ceiling. The mood was like the first day of Creation, Arp and Sophie re-inventing the world, together with new laws and possibilities of understanding. There was something ethereal about this couple; they resembled two winged ants or butterflies above a flowering meadow: she gracious, smiling, calm; he amused and comical, with hands that were constantly busy kneading, caressing, and assembling.
    • Claire Goll: in Ich verzeihe keinem, p. 63; as quoted by Isabel Wünsche in: Marianne Werefkin and the Women Artists in Her Circle, ed. Tanja Malycheva, Isabel Wünsche; Publisher: Brill. (2017), p. 59
    • The two married artists (in 1922) shared similar artistic interests; rejecting traditional forms of expression, they explored together in their studio a broad variety of materials and techniques. Claire Goll visited them frequently there
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