Ph: Nicolai Aluf
Sophie Taeuber with her Dada head 1920
Gelatin silver print on card, 12.9 × 9.8 Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin

Finally, a plethora of female artists are having long-overdue solo shows at major British cultural institutions.  Paula Rego at the Tate Britain, Charlotte Perriand at the Design Museum, Jennifer Packer at the Serpentine South Gallery are all headliners this July 2021… It finally feels as if the balance has tipped to its rightful place in celebrating important female artists in their own right after lifetimes of exhibitions regurgitating the same, mostly male artist-as-icon trope – how many Picasso shows can there really be?!

Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Geometric and Undulating 1941
Crayon and graphite on paper 49.2 × 39.2
Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland. Collection Cantone Ticino

And so now to the Tate Modern, hosting the UK’s long overdue exhibition of Swiss Dadaist artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889-1943). You may not have heard of her, though her influence is far and wide reaching.  The multi-disciplinary designer perfected her art through multiple mediums, whether it's painting, sculpture, textile design, architecture, performance and even marionette making. Considered one of the most innovative creators of the 20th century Avant-Garde, abstract art & design; her most-notable works flourished after the first world war, between the 1920s-30s. Her portrait was the only female form in the 50 Swiss Franc banknote up until 2012 when it changed again (we say, bring her back!!)

Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Geometric Forms (beaded bag) 1917
Glass beads, metal beads, thread, cord, and fabric Height: 8 1⁄16" (20.5 cm), diam.: 2 3⁄4" (7 cm) Museum für Gestaltung, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Zurich. Decorative Arts Collection

So why is the work of this pioneering female artist still so relevant today? Her unique approach to an aesthetic formed by geometry and Dadaist humour has inspired the world of fashion for decades. Think back to Fendi’s A/W 2015 collection, whose ad campaign was designed and shot by then-Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld. In Fendi’s homage to Taeuber-Arp, the set design recreated elements of her geometric patterns as well as her sculptures, as the life-size 1918 Dada puppet stag was sat on by Kendall Jenner. A bold move to juxtapose fashion next to the mastery of form from Taeuber-Arp, but if anyone could do it, Karl could.

Left: Fendi A/W 2015 collection, photographed by Karl Lagerfeld
Right: Sophie Taeuber-Arp's
Stag (marionette for‘King Stag’) 1918
Oil paint on wood; brass sheet; metallic paint on metallic paper; metal hardware 50 × 17.8 × 18
Museum für Gestaltung, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Zurich. Decorative Arts Collection

The Taeuber-Arp exhibition has long been anticipated in the UK, it being the first time an extensive showcase of her work over 200 objects across multiple disciplines has been gathered in one place here.

Don’t miss what is another spectacular show by booking your tickets by clicking this!

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