During the 1960´s, the Swiss artist Françoise Grossen appeared on the American art scene at a pivotal moment. The trends that emerged during that era aiming to break with tradition and present other artistic forms, turned those years into a constant hotbed for ideas.

Having rejected the traditional working method of rectilinear weaving, she presented new works created with rope and in XL format, hanging and rope designs creating knots, loops and plaits. This work revealed a revolutionary proposal in art, transforming a material that had not been of great significance to date.

“Co-twisted” paper and starch by Tomoki Ishida

“Co-twisted” paper and starch by Tomoki Ishida

Alongside her work, other contemporary artists such as Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks and Magdalena Abakanovicz, began to take an interest in and work using materials such as rope, chains or cables. These were times of profound change, during which these disciplines finally found a space within the complex and increasingly small world of art.

Suspension bridges and utilitarian structures along with all kinds of fibre objects, such as Peruvian “khipus” also known as “talking knots, forms of anchorage and knotting, and even the exoskeletons of insects, served as reference points for Françoise when creating her works. These pieces were not fanciful simply for the sake of it, but rather, loaded with a sense of aesthetics and internal uniformity.

“Patak au Perou” by Guy Houdouin and “No sound on the wind” by Lenore Tawney

“Patak au Perou” by Guy Houdouin and “No sound on the wind” by Lenore Tawney

Her methodical, accumulative and occasionally repetitive work was transformed into spectacular and delicate rope structures that she then turned into objects that also influenced the way that era was viewed. They were artistic pieces created using an apparently simple technique that required a lot of dedication and technical expertise.

“Shield” and “Swan”, works by Françoise Grossen

“Shield” and “Swan”, works by Françoise Grossen

The exhibition now on display includes some of the Swiss designer’s pieces that belong to the museum´s permanent collection, alongside other work from contemporary designers using materials such as metal, wool, rope and synthetic fibre. It is organised by Elissa Auther and the assistant Sophia Merkin.

“Construction” and “Symbiosis”, pieces by F. Grossen

“Construction” and “Symbiosis”, pieces by F. Grossen

Photos Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe/ Butcher Walsh/ John Bigelow Taylor/ Ed Watkins/ Eva Heyd/ MAD .
www.madmuseum.org

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