Sophie Taeuber-Arp exhibition book

Created to accompany the Sophie Taeuber-Arp exhibition at Tate Modern, this book is a concise introduction to one of the world’s most important concrete and geometric abstract artists and co-founder of the dada movement.

The ‘lived abstraction’ of Taeuber-Arp’s work plays a large part in the exhibition with the artworks on show exploring how Taueber-Arp’s subversive, dissident and often revolutionary style radiated into every facet of her life and paved the way for modern artists to come. Many of her pieces are shown together for the first time, as this exhibition catalogue explores.

Taeuber-Arp became a teacher after studying art and dance and later taught others how to design patterns for textiles. In the terrible wake of the First World War, European civilisation was on the brink of collapse and a group of young people were rebelling from the world of destruction around them. They defined themselves as nonsensical, cynical, savage and abstract – the dadaists. Responsible for co-founding the dada art movement, Tauber-Arp’s way with colours and shapes unlocked new possibilities in art, costume and interior design.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889–1943) was an artist but also a dancer, designer, puppet maker, architect and editor. A true pioneer of modern art, for Taeuber-Arp, abstraction was never just an idea; it was her way of life. Liberated but ordered, radical and yet structured, Taueber-Arp’s work invites us to dance within a grid, to break boundaries by following her rules. Tied so closely with dance, poetry and performance, Taueber-Arp created the perfect escapism from the troubled and violent society around her, making this publication a pertinent exploration of what it means to create ones own personal order in an increasingly unstable world.

Bettina Kauffman is a freelance researcher, editor and author.

Medea Hoch is Research Assistant at Zurich University of the Arts.