Blum & Poe, New York
November 3, 2017—January 6, 2018
Opening reception: Friday, November 3, 6—8pm
Blum & Poe is pleased to present an exhibition of sculptural work spanning three decades by Swiss-born artist Françoise Grossen. In her third solo presentation with the gallery, Grossen showcases three segments of her practice—hanging sculpture, floor works, and a series of maquettes that preceded her expansive installations of the 1970s.
Represented in this selection are a variety of Grossen's interests and influences as a young fiber sculptor, one who eventually became a leader of her field and more broadly helped define the archetypes of 1960s and '70s aesthetics. The earth tones, natural fibers, and found materials she employs capture her generation's desire to return to nature and reject consumerism, while her use of geometric shapes and repetitive patterns exemplify the clean, minimalist line of the era's design.
As with her hanging sculptures, which negate the convention of presenting fiber works two-dimensionally as tapestries, Grossen’s floor series draws the viewer's focus from the wall, this time to the ground. For these, Grossen was partially inspired by the contemporaneous avant-garde dance of downtown New York that did away with the stage and instead explored movements made for the floor. With Grossen's large-scale installations, we see the open floor plan at work—one of the staples of the period's architecture, which Grossen studied in Lausanne, Switzerland—this concept challenged and inspired her to create the monumental works we are led to imagine here via their miniature predecessors. These maquettes are accompanied by vintage photography of their sprawling counterparts, the delicate nature of the models contrasted by the sheer magnitude of the works they preluded. Mermaid I, Embryo and several of the maquettes on view, were thought to be long lost—unearthed only recently from Grossen's studio archives as she prepared for her 2016 solo exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in New York.
Finally, on view for the first time, Grossen presents the ultimate iterations of her suspended rope work series: Alpha, Beta, Gamma (Signe II), and Delta. Completed between 1991-93, these four serve as the denouement to a thirty-year practice in fiber.
Grossen's work pursues universal themes that emerged across disciplines during these decades, breaking ground via the medium of fiber sculpture. As curator and writer Jenelle Porter explains it: "Grossen pushes beyond this initial rupture with the rectangle and the wall to explore the weight of her material and its response to gravity, an investigation that aligns her art with broader artistic debates taking place in New York and elsewhere." Or more simply put, in Grossen's words: "First we broke with the rectangle, then we broke with the wall."
Françoise Grossen (b. 1943 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland) lives and works in New York City. In 2016, a survey of her work was presented at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY, and she was the recipient of the American Craft Council Award. Her work has been featured in recent group exhibitions including First Light: A Decade of Collecting at the ICA, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2016); Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 - 2016, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles (2016); Tapisseries nomads, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland (2016); The Textile Room, Museum Bellerive, Zurich, Switzerland (2015); and Fiber: Sculpture 1960-Present, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, which traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, and Des Moines Art Center, IA (2014-2015). Grossen's work has been collected by international public and private institutions including the American Craft Museum, New York, NY; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN; Musee d'Art et d'Histoire, Neuchâtel, Switzerland; Museum Bellerive, Zurich, Switzerland; Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL; Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI; Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.