Lenore Tawney (American, 1907–2007) United States, New York, New York City
About this artwork
Lenore Tawney’s Waters above the Firmament owes its striking character to the simplicity of its basic concept: a large circle set into a square. This simplicity is complicated by the weight Tawney has given to the upper half of the circle, in which the warps are made of paper and fabric coated in thick blue paint. Here Tawney, known for her pioneering exposure of the warp (vertical thread element), provided a variant on that theme: she wove the circle with slits that open at regular half-inch intervals, emphasizing a third dimension, a device she utilized in many of her weavings. Trained in sculpture at the Institute of Design in Chicago and an alumna of the School of the Art Institute, Tawney’s exploration of weaving as a sculptural enterprise fits well within her body of work, which also includes laminated boxes and collages as well as constructions composed of such materials as eggshells and chairs.
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Linen, warp-faced weft-ribbed plain weave with discontinuous wefts; 18th/19th century manuscript pages cut into strips, attached, and painted with Liquitex acrylic paint; braided, knotted, and cut warp fringe
397.6 × 369 cm (156 1/2 × 145 1/4 in.)
H. L. and Mary T. Adams, Harriott A. Fox, and Mrs. Siegfried G. Schmidt Endowments; purchased with funds provided by of Laurance H. Armour, Jr. and Margot G. Armour Family Foundation, Mrs. William G. Swartchild, Jr., Joan Rosenberg, Joseph W. Fell, and the Textile Society
Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report 1982–83 (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1983), 46 fig. 61.
Thurman, Christa C. Mayer Thurman, Textiles in The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 1992), 134, 136-137, 149.
Kathleen Nugent Mangan, ed. Lenore Tawney: A Retrospective, exh. cat. (New York: Rizzoli and the American Craft Museum, 1990), 26 [photographed in studio, 1976], 76-77.
Karen E. Paterson, ed., Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe (Sheboygan, WI: John Michael Kohler Arts Center in association with The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 2019), 195 )ill.).
Art Institute of Chicago, Elizabeth F. Cheney and Agnes Allerton Textile Galleries, Gift, Bequest and Purchase: A Selection of Textile Acquisitions from 1982–1987, Mar. 18–Aug. 14, 1989.
New York, American Craft Museum, Lenore Tawney: A Retrospective, April 18—June 21, 1990, cat. no. 48; traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago, July 26—Oct. 28, 1990; Washington, D.C., Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Apr. 12—July 21, 1991; Chicago only.
Art Institute of Chicago, Elizabeth F. Cheney and Agnes Allerton Textile Galleries, Textile Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago’s Collection, Feb. 17–May 2, 1993.
Art Institute of Chicago, Elizabeth F. Cheney and Agnes Allerton Textile Galleries, Focus on Fiber Art: Selections from the Growing 20th Century Collection, Oct. 6, 1993–Feb. 27, 1994.
Art Institute of Chicago, Elizabeth F. Cheney and Agnes Allerton Textile Galleries, Weaving beyond the Bauhaus, Aug. 3, 2019-Feb. 17, 2020.
The artist, New York [Invoice, Apr. 13, 1983; copy in curatorial object file]; sold to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1983.
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