Lines at War

2017-20187 graphics on thick laid paper, mounted on wood, 50 x 170/180 x 2 cm each

The series LINES AT WAR, which combines some of Taeuber-Arp’s works from the ‘Lignes’ series with photographs from WW2, shows the connection and the discrepancy between Taeuber-Arp’s artistic activity and the world of war and persecution. This graphics thereby highlight a dilemma facing artists to this day, of making art in a time of injustice and violence. To the left (or at the top respectively) of each graphic, you see an original composition by Taeuber-Arp. In the middle, it “reacts” with a photograph. To the right (and at the bottom accordingly), the composition dissolves or is transformed. ‘Lines at War – Border’ shows two original compositions to the left and to the right.

In what is, prima facie, a mesh of abstract lines, no few of the works that Sophie Taeuber-Arp completed between 1940 and 1942 in her exile in southern France show hexagons, hooks and whips. The compositions of lively, curved lines have, in part, something lost, floating, broken, irrational about them. At times they seem to be deliberately ‘chaotic’, which, in all Taeuber-Arp’s earlier works, would have been wholly uncharacteristic. In my view, these works manifest a symbolism of war, persecution and flight. In Taeuber-Arp’s cycle of works entitled ‘Lignes…’ (1940-42), an aspect of DADA re-emerges – the meaning- and order-denying art of refugees from war.