Françoise Grossen Selects
Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019, USA
In the 1960s, Françoise Grossen rejected the rectilinear loom that constrained contemporary weaving for an intuitive approach to fiber that resulted in the creation of large-scale, suspended rope forms constructed of knots, loops, braids, and twists. At the time, fiber was still associated with utility rather than fine art, and Grossen's freehand, three-dimensional handling of the medium was considered a revolutionary gesture that upset the traditional hierarchy subordinating craft to art. A number of other artists in the 1960s and 1970s, including Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks, and Magdalena Abakanowicz, also began working with fiber in innovative ways, and they shared Grossen's interest in the process of making and the desire for unmediated contact with everyday materials such as rope, string, cord, and twine.
Process as an aesthetic value in the art world of the 1960s and 1970s provides one context for this groundbreaking work. Grossen also found inspiration in utilitarian structures and objects made of fiber, such as rope suspension bridges, Peruvian khipus, marine ropes for docking and anchoring, and natural forms such as the exoskeletons of insects. Her practice has always involved translating these sources into abstract forms through a cumulative, repetitive approach that she describes as "rope upon rope, braid after braid." Through this methodical process her work takes shape, shifts, and mutates into forms that elegantly thematize transformations of the natural and the cultural, from the processing of fiber into utilitarian rope to its subsequent elevation in her work as a medium of sculpture.
As part of MAD's POV series, Grossen has mined the Museum's permanent collection and brought her own rope sculptures together with a selection of work from MAD's unusual collection of baskets, as well as other work in fiber, wood, and metal. Privileging elemental methods of construction as a language of abstraction, Grossen's selections highlight an approach to contemporary sculpture that focuses on the artist's direct transformation of material and links it to a wider discussion about ways of making in culture at large.
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