Munich; Sheila Hicks at Espace Louis Vuitton
by Venetia Kapernekas
‘Predestined Colour Waves’, Sheila Hicks
8 October 2015 – 23 January 2016
A beautiful and elegant opening last evening at The Espace Louis Vuitton München “Predestined Color Waves”, the first monographic exhibition in Germany since 1970 of the unique oeuvre of the Paris-based American artist Sheila Hicks.
Atterrissage, 2014, pigments, fibres acryliques, 480 x 430 x 260 cm (dimensions variables). Courtesy galerie frank elbaz, Paris
Sheila Hicks has long had a passion for architecture, and many of her works respond directly to the built environment: braided bas-reliefs, hanging soft sculpture, abstract tapestries.
Anja Kaehny , director of Espace München(left), Sheila Hicks and Monique Lévi-Strauss, photo@VK
Creating new interpretations of age-old textile techniques, the artist has developed her own experimental and idiosyncratic style incorporating natural fibres, synthetic blends, and at times found objects, organic matter, and industrial materials. Colour, texture, and structure are her central concerns. Hicks’s art is informed by her academic training in Modernism, her encyclopaedic knowledge of historical textiles, her tireless exploration of new technologies, and a lifelong love of investigating different cultures. Painting, photography and archaeology were important early influences during her extended travels and stays in Latin America. (gallery press, Alison Jacques gallery, London)
Monique Lévi-Strauss (left) and Sheila Hicks, photo@VK
An interest in architecture, sparked during her student years at Yale University where Louis Kahn and Vincent Scully taught and intensified during her residence in Mexico when she met Felix Candela, Luis Barragán, and Ricardo Legorreta, became a cornerstone of her practice.
Sheila Hicks was born in Nebraska in 1934, and as teenager she used to explore the galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she became so impassioned by Peruvian textiles that she talked her way into the storerooms. After two years at college she transferred to Yale Art School, where she was one of the female students and where she encountered tow formative professors. One was Josef Albers, who had brought the principles of the Bauhaus with him to the United States. Albers was a renewed pedagogue, and his courses included a heavy dose of colour theory. Hicks also undertook independent studies with Alber’s wife, Anni, who shared her interest in textiles.
Ferdinand Huwendiek & Alexandra Eley, photo@VK
The exhibition is made possible by the loan of Atterrissage (2014) from the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. It is accompanied by a catalogue featuring an essay by the art critic Jason Farago and contributions by the writer and textile scholar Monique Lévi-Strauss and Stephanie Rosenthal, artistic director of the 2016 Biennale of Sydney.