• portrait Sophie Taeuber
    Sophie Taeuber was born in Davos in 1889. She went to Munich in the fall of 1910, where she studied in the textile workshop of an experimental studio directed by Wilhelm von Debschitz. After a year at the School of Applied Arts in Hamburg, she returned again to Debschitz' studio until she moved to Zurich. In the fall of 1915 Taeuber met Hans Arp. She and Arp embarked on an experiment with abstract forms. Taeuber's previous work with abstract geometric compositions in her designs for textiles formed the foundation of their collaborative duo-collages, which were composed of cut paper arranged in strict horizontal and vertical patterns. Taeuber also produced weavings from her own and Arp's designs and was in this respect one of the first artists in Zurich Dada to demonstrate the contribution of the applied arts to the development of abstract art.
  • Since 1916 Taeuber had been studying dance with Rudolf von Laban, a Swiss modern dancer and choreographer who advocated a radical form of expressive movement. In April of that year, Taeuber and Mary Wigman, a student of Laban's who would go on to become a prominent modern dancer, began performing at the Cabaret Voltaire dressed in costumes designed by other members of the Dada circle. In 1918 Taeuber received a commission to design the stage sets and marionettes for a production of Carlo Gozzi's play Il re cervo (König Hirsch/King Stag). It was the first performance of its kind to integrate Dada and psychoanalysis. Between 1920 and 1926 Taeuber traveled extensively, taking vacations with Hans Arp that were often spent in the company of other dadaists like Max Ernst, Paul Eluard, and Tristan Tzara, or Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Höch.
    Sophie Taeuber died of accidental gas poisoning in 1943 while she and Arp were in Zurich attempting to obtain passage to the United States.
    More extensive is Amanda L. Hockensmith, 'Sophie Taeuber', published in Leah Dickerman (ed.), Dada. Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris (National Gallery of Art : Washington DC 2005) 488 and online available at Dada biographies: Sophie Taeuber, an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. The article is translated in French and published in Dada / Catalogue publié sous la direction de Laurent Le Bon (Éditions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005).
    Sophie Taeuber with Dada-Kopf, 1920 (photograph Nic Aluf) [Collection Galerie Berinson, Berlin]
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    banner: portrait with 'Dada-Kopf', 1920 (photograph Nic Aluf) [Collection Fondation Arp, Clamart]