Design Archives: Sophie Taeuber-Arp

(1889-1943) Designer, Artist & Performer

Words Catherine Coyle

Elements divers, 1918

Elements divers, 1918

Sophie Taeuber-Arp was ahead of her time in every sense, and her work had an indelible impact on the development of 20th-century art. Yet despite her contribution to some of the most significant art movements in modern history, her involvement in critical artistic thinking and her vast practice, she remains relatively unknown across Europe. Even in her homeland of Switzerland, where she is commemorated on the 50-franc note, she is scarcely a household name. It wasn’t until the early 1980s, in fact, some 40 years after her death, that she had her first major global retrospective, at MoMA, New York.

Self portrait, Strasbourg, 1926

Self portrait, Strasbourg, 1926

Born in 1889 in Davos, in the Alps, Taeuber-Arp was one of five children. Her father died when she was a toddler and her mother was obliged to open a business to support the family. By 1906, Taeuber-Arp was a student at the school of applied arts in St Gallen, before crossing the border to study in Munich and Hamburg.

Café, 1928

Café, 1928

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She was the very epitome of an ‘all-rounder’ – categorising her as a textiles artist or as a painter simply misunderstands her legacy. At the heart of what she did was a total commitment to the practice of art.


This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning works of art on pages 303-308, issue 100.

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