Category: Artsy

In Praise of Older Women Artists

Simone Pheulpin at The Design Museum of London. Photo: Maison Parisienne

Last year, Artsy took a look at why old women had replaced young men as the “new darlings” of the art word. Its twofold explanation: as institutions attempt to revise the art-historical canon, passionate dealers and curators have seen years of promotion come to fruition and these artists have gained attention as blue-chip galleries search for new artists to represent among those initially overlooked.

Artsy points at Carmen Herrara, Carol Rama, Irma Blank, and Geta Brătescu and others to make its point. Mary Sabbatino, vice president at Galerie Lelong, is quoted as saying,  “They’re fully formed artists, they’re mature artists, they’re serious artists. They’re not going to burn out as sometimes happens with younger artists…and normally the prices are far below the other artists of their generation, so you’re offering a value to someone.” Barbara Haskell, a curator at the Whitney Museum in New York, says museums everywhere are realizing that “there’s been a lopsided focus on the white male experience” in art history, and are working to correct that.”

Primitive Figures Bird and Insects, Luba Krejci,
knotted linen, 40.5″ x 44.5″ x 2″, circa 1970s. Photo: Tom Grotta

Among the women artists working in fiber who belong on a list of those achieving belated recognition include Ruth Asawa, Sheila Hicks (mentioned in the Artsy article) Kay Sekimachi, Lenore Tawney, Ethel Stein, Simone Pheulpin, Sonia Delauney, Luba Krejci, Ritzi Jacobi and Helena Hernmarck. The international contemporary fiber movement was initiated by women who took reinvented tapestry, took it off the wall and drew global attention to an art form that had been synonymous with tradition to that point. Luba Krecji adapted needle and bobbin lace techniques to create, “nitak,” her own technique, which enabled her to “draw” with thread. In her use of line as “sculptural form,” Ruth Asawa,” provided a crucial link between the mobile modernism of Alexander Calder and the gossamer Minimalism of Fred Sandback, whose yarn pieces similarly render distinctions between interior and exterior moot,” wrote Andrea K. Scott last year in The New Yorker.

 

Damask 5, Ethel Stein, 1980-89. Photo by Tom Grotta

These artists continue their explorations though their seventies, eighties and nineties. An example, Kay Sekimachi, who created complex, elegant monofilament weavings in the 70s and 80s, bowls and towers of paper after that, and continues, at age 90, to create elegant weavings of lines and grids that are reminiscent of the paintings of Agnes Martin. After having received the Special Mention Loewe Craft Prize and exhibited at the  Design Museum of London, this year, Simone Pheulpin continues to create innovative work in her 70s, work that is part of the 10th contemporary art season at Domaine de Chaumont sur Loire and part of the exhibition “Tissage Tressage” at the Fondation Villa Datris.

Artsy’s Take on Textile Pioneers and Ours

Bobbin Lace with Openings, Ed Rossbach, plastic tubing, bobbin lace 20.5" x 44.5", 1970

Bobbin Lace with Openings, Ed Rossbach, plastic tubing, bobbin lace 20.5″ x 44.5″, 1970

Last fall, Artsy compiled information and slide shows on 10 artists the author, Sarah Gottesman, viewed as pioneers. Click HERE to read Artsy’s article. We have our own nominees for such a list, including Ed Rossbach who experimented with materials and techniques in the 60s, creating bobbin lace from plastic tubing and vessels of cereal boxes and tubing, and Lia Cook, who has combined weaving, painting, photography and digital technology, focusing on the history and meaning of textiles, shattering restrictive theories about craft, art, science and technology in the process. Gyöngy Laky has experimented in sculpture of twigs and wood, hardware and wire — creating vessels, forms, wall work and typography. Kay Sekimachi created ethereal monofilament weavings in the 70s and 80s, bowls and towers of paper after that, and continues, at age 90, to create elegant weavings of lines and grid that are reminiscent of the paintings of Agnes Martin.
Intensity Tera Data woven cotton and rayon 50.5” x 332”, 2014 23lc Neural Networks woven cotton and rayon 81” x 51”, 2011 27lc Intensity Su Data Encore woven cotton and rayon 52” x 40”, 2014

Intensity Tera Data, woven cotton and rayon, 50.5” x 332”, 2014
Neural Networks, woven cotton and rayon, 81” x 51”, 2011
 Intensity Su Data Encore, woven cotton and rayon, 52” x 40”, 2014

You can learn more about these and other artists through our catalog, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now , which profiles 15 pioneering fiber artists who took textiles off the wall in the 60s and 70s to create three-dimensional fiber sculpture and 15 artists born in 1960 or after, who have continued that innovative approach.
Gyöngy Laky Currency Art

Gyöngy Laky Currency Art

Homage to Paul Klee, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permament marker, modified plain weave, 13.25” x 12”, 2013

Homage to Paul Klee, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permament marker, modified plain weave, 13.25” x 12”, 2013