Modern and Contemporary Art
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Swiss, 1889–1943



Wood (lathe-turned)

38.9 cm (15 5/16 in.)
other: 19.7 cm (7 3/4 in.)
Gift of Jean Arp in memory of Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Swiss artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp worked as a painter, sculptor, and designer. She was, together with her husband Jean Arp, one of the early members of the Dada movement, founded in Zurich in 1916. In her work—comprised of paintings, graphics, textiles, clothing, sculptures, theatre, and dance—she experimented with geometric forms and color; her formalist approach was close to Cubism and De Stijl, but she applied it to a variety of media, transgressing the borders between applied and fine arts. Turned Wood Sculpture with its rounded volumes and cut-away wedge shapes testifies to Taeuber-Arp’s interest in form and balance and exemplifies her evocative use of unpainted wood in the late 1930s. However, the sculpture retains a humoristic element, through an allusion to the forest gnome Kaspar, a popular figure in German children’s literature. Taeuber-Arp’s artistic vision, based on formal research and playful allusion to childhood, is formidably expressed in this work. Jean Arp gave Turned Wood Sculpture to the Gallery in memory of his late wife in 1950, having been utterly impressed by the Société Anonyme collection when he viewed it at Yale with Katherine Dreier the year before.

Not on view
20th century

Ruth L. Bohan et al., The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America, ed. Jennifer Gross, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), 184, ill.

Robert L. Herbert, Eleanor S. Apter, and Elise K. Kenney, The Société Anonyme and the Dreier Bequest at Yale University: A Catalogue Raisonné (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984), 654, no. 679, ill.

Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1950), 68-69, ill.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Today is Tomorrow, exh. cat. (Zurich: Aargauer Kunsthaus, 2014), 152, 282, no. 197, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.