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Waters Above the Firmament

Panel of fabric and paper, central circle formed by thin vertical strips; top half colored blue.
© Lenore G. Tawney Foundation

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  • Panel of fabric and paper, central circle formed by thin vertical strips; top half colored blue.




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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Lenore Tawney


Waters Above the Firmament


New York City


Made 1976


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.)

Credit Line

H. L. and Mary T. Adams, Harriott A. Fox, and Mrs. Siegfried G. Schmidt Endowments; restricted gift 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

Reference Number



© Lenore G. Tawney Foundation

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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