Fiber Art

Fiber art refers to fine art whose material consists of textile fibres and other components, such as fabric or yarn. It focuses on the materials and the artist's handiwork, and gives priority to aesthetic value rather than utility per se. Fiber artists reclaim traditional techniques and weave together art, activism and craft.

"Needlework, in other words sewing, embroidery, lace, tapestry and knitting, have historically been part of women's lives" - Aline Dallier-Popper, art historian and critic, 1976.

Born in the American city of Lorain (Ohio), Lenore Tawney spent a large part of her youth in Chicago where she worked as a copy editor and took courses in Fine Arts. In 1946, she began an artistic training course in which she studied sculpture, drawing and weaving at the Bauhaus of Chicago, a school founded by László Moholy-Nagy. Her stay at the North Carolina School of Crafts in 1954 with Martta Taipale, a Finnish artist specialised in tapestry, proved decisive in her choice of medium. She worked with silk, linen and wool and began to question the classical codes of weaving to invent her own rules, accentuating the experimental side of her work.

She invented a process called "Open Warp" in which the warp and weft threads remain visible. The weft threads, usually rigid, take on a freer, more fluid and artistic form, creating a parallel with the art of drawing.

Lenore Tawney began her career as an artist very late in life, at the age of 50, and continued to do so until her death. Her work evolved and changed after she moved from Chicago to New York in 1957. She became friends with the artists of the now-legendary Minimalist movement, which included Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly and Agnes Martin, with whom Tawney developed a close and lasting friendship, which was undoubtedly a love story, although one that could not be lived openly at that time. The only text Martin ever published on another artist was for Tawney's first New York exhibition at the Staten Island Museum in 1961.

"To see a new and original expression in a very old medium, and a completely new form in each work, is totally unexpected, and it is a wonderful and gratifying experience." - Artist Agnes Martin on Lenore Tawney, 1961

Travelling through Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and South America for nearly 15 years, she expanded her spectrum of artistic vision and developed her way of working. Throughout her career, she also created drawings and collages, often in the form of postcards that she sent to her friends. Lenore Tawney's attachment to spirituality and meditation greatly influenced her work and choice of subjects. When her eyesight began to fail in the 1990s, she continued to create with the help of an assistant. Her body of work has established her as a major figure in textile art, with recent exhibitions in the United States.


Discover the pieces of the Spring Summer 2022 Edition 18