Exhibition: Sheila Hicks | Why Not

Dates:5 March 2016 until 5 June 2016

The Tilburg TextielMuseum is pleased to announce a major retrospective of American artist and textile pioneer Sheila Hicks (1934). Internationally renowned, thanks to her participation in numerous large solo and group exhibitions, this is her first appearance in the Netherlands for many years.

Her colourful work, which ranges from monumental textile installations in buildings to metre-high sculptures and enchanting miniatures, has been making waves since the late 1950s. A varied selection of this free work is on display, alongside industrially produced materials and handmade prototypes.

08_SheilaHicksAttention is also be paid to Hicks’ special bond with the Netherlands. Photos, films, sketches, drawings and personal documents illustrate her peripatetic and productive life. Sheila Hicks | Why Not. features work spanning seven decades, on loan from (inter)national collections, and a piece made especially for this exhibition.

Hicks has been fascinated by art and textiles since she was a child. In the 1950s, she trained as a painter with former Bauhaus teacher Josef Albers. Through his wife Anni, a renowned textile designer, she was introduced to pre-Inca textiles.

After completing her thesis on the topic, she was awarded a scholarship to paint in Chile. During the period she spent in South America, she developed a particular interest in textiles. This interest took her all over the world, from Mexico and South Africa to Morocco and India. Wherever she went, she collaborated and exchanged knowledge with local artisans, artists and businesses.

Her colourful installations are admired worldwide and she continues to create large-scale textile projects in her studio in Paris. Her works can be found in the collections of dozens of prestigious museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Institutions that have loaned works for the exhibition include the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

02_SheilaHicks-2Bond with the Netherlands
Hicks has formed a special bond with the Netherlands. One of her first major solo exhibitions was held in 1974 in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. During her visits to the country, she met gallery owner Cora de Vries (with whom she exhibited in the 1980s) and designer and design promotor Benno Premsela.

What not many people know is that she made large wall hangings for the departure hall at Schiphol airport, titled ‘Homage to Kho Liang Ie’ (1975). These are included in the exhibition, as are the sketches of her impressive floor-transcending installation for the Provinciehuis in ’s-Hertogenbosch.

The collaboration with Dutch designer Irma Boom, who designed the award-winning book Sheila Hicks – Weaving as a Metaphor, is also explored. Exclusively for Sheila Hicks | Why Not., Boom has produced another publication, available in the TextielShop.

The exhibition
The subtitle of the exhibition ‘Why Not.’ was suggested by Hicks herself. It refers to the playfulness and perseverance – characteristics echoed in her work – that illustrate the Dutch mentality for her.

Short and sweet: why not indeed? The exhibition features autonomous work and monumental installations, from Hicks’ earliest pieces from the 1950s to a very recent work based on her collaboration with a weavery in Guatemala, as well as more applied assignments for companies such as Knoll and Momentum.

03_SheilaHicksThe exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive fringe programme. More information can be found on www.textielmuseum.nl.

This exhibition is generously supported by Fonds 21.

Copyright: Tilburg Textile Museum/Sheila Hicks  images and text

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