Currently on view at Blum & Poe is the first survey of Swiss-born, New York-based artist Françoise Grossen, focusing on works the artist created between 1967 and 1991 using fiber, a material that has recently had something of a renaissance in contemporary practice. The material, which served as a popular material during the experimental ventures of the late 1960’s art scene, saw Grossen, as well as her peers Eva Hesse, Sheila Hicks and Lenore Tawney utilizing the material in allegorical and often grandiose arrangements, culminating in 1969’s historically resonant MoMA exhibition Wall Hangings.
The survey on view at Blum & Poe reflects Grossen’s long career, in which she challenged the often conceptually conservative and masculine dynamics of 1960’s art, as well as a restricted understanding of textile and fiber art, fields that were often regarded as mundane craftwork. Her broad educational background, primarily studying architecture and textile design in Switzerland before pursuing an MFA under Bernard Kester at UCLA, vividly reflects her current artistic path.
Grossen’s meticulous and laborious approach involves tying ropes in particular arrangements, piling one knot onto another, a process she finds similar to joining consecutive letters of an alphabet, to achieve complex yet serene fiber sculptures. Some hang from the ceiling, while others rest on pedestals, each possessing equally biomorphic and lyrical formations that emphasize their potent visual and emotional presence even more profoundly through close inspection. The artist borrows elements from various mediums of artistic practice, utilizing distinct and often isolated visual languages into multifaceted creations, using the subliminal effects of visual abstraction to realize the atmospheric presence that traditional sculpture generates, while letting her ties to artisanal craftsmanship lend exquisite materialistic textures and color schemes to the work that her minimalism-leaning contemporaries rarely approached.
Today Grossen’s continued practice works against a certain dominant thread of technology-driven artistic production, placing nature and sensuality into the center of her argument. Gravity, holding a subtle yet crucial part in her work, adds another layer to her otherwise loose, free-spirited creations. Resembling mythical creatures or futuristic life forms, her works caress the pedestals they rest on or elegantly fall from the ceiling, simultaneously posing gestures of strength and vivacity.
Françoise Grossen’s exhibition is on view at Blum & Poe through August 14, 2015.
*All images are the Courtesy of Blum & Poe and the Artist.