October 7, 2012


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Lot 48: Sheila Hicks

Lot 48: Sheila Hicks

Tahoe Wall

c. 1970
Rayon, linen and cotton on three panels

89" x 128" assembled

A variant of the design was included in an interior scheme by Michel Boyer for the Rothschild's Bank refurbishment, Paris, 1970.

Literature: Constantine, Mildred, and Jack Lenor Larsen. Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric. San Francisco: Kodansha International, 1986. pp 188-189 (for a similar example); Faxon, Susan C., and Joan Simon. Sheila Hicks: 50 Years. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. p 122 (for a similar example).

Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000
Price Realized: $93,750
Inventory Id: 3414

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Sheila Hicks (b. 1934), internationally renowned fiber artist, has traveled the world to learn the weaving practices of a diverse group of indigenous cultures. Along the way, “she has absorbed the tone, respected its tradition, and responded to its potentials.” For the past fifty years, she has acted on these potentials through a variety of materials and techniques, creating both small woven tapestries and massive gallery installations.

Originally from Nebraska, she studied at Yale University under Josef Albers and was awarded multiple scholarships to research pre-Incaic cultures as well as painting and weaving in Mexico and France. She eventually settled in Paris where she has resided since 1964. Along with commissions and exhibitions throughout Europe, in the 1960s and 70s, Hicks utilized local resources in Chile and Mexico to establish workshops that produced wall hangings and prayer rugs. One of these rugs, originally displayed in the CBS Building in Manhattan, is now in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Throughout the following decades, Hicks, operating out of her Atelier des Grands Augustins in Paris, worked with design firms such as Knoll and architects around the world, making her one of the first successful fiber artists, both critically and commercially. Among the foremost architects she has the reputation of being able to “walk into any situation, evaluate the potential of local artisans and resources, factor in the demands of the market, take into account the sensibility of the various players, and propose design solutions that were not only adapted but innovative.”

In Tahoe Wall (c. 1970), Hicks illustrates her ability to transform a surface into a vibrant tapestry, teeming with warmth and fluidity. Her scrupulous attention to the properties of the materials has resulted in a seamless transition of colorful silk interrupted by smooth tufts of natural linen. Critic Mildred Constantine and fabric designer Jack Lenor Larsen describe this piece as “replete with the rhythmic cadence of music.” Hick’s work can be viewed in the permanent collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. A retrospective, entitled“ Sheila Hicks: 50 Years”, was on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia in 2011. Sheila Hicks, along with other fiber artists in the 60s and 70s, challenged the conventional definition of fiber a “craft” material by manipulating it beyond its common manifestations. A dense visual landscape constructed of hundreds of fibrous nodes, Tahoe (Rainbow) (c. 1975) demonstrates a progression in weaving techniques that Hicks had amassed over her extensive travels.

Constantine, Mildred, and Jack Lenor Larsen. Beyond Craft: The Art of Fabric. San Francisco: Kodansha International, 1986. Print.
Falino, Jeannine, ed. Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design. New York: Abrams, 2011. Print.
Vienne, Veronique. “Sheila Hicks: The Art of the Yarn.”Metropolismag.com. Metropolis June 2011. Web. 12 Aug. 2012.