In Poetry and Silence: The Work and Studio of Lenore Tawney

October 6, 2019 — March 7, 2020
 

Lenore Tawney, untitled (detail), 1961; rayon and wool; 63 x 22 3/8 in. Courtesy of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski, courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

Lenore Tawney, Dove, 1974; linen; 118 x 108 in. Collection of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski.

Lenore Tawney, Lost and Proud (detail), 1957; linen, silk, and wool; 43 x 51 1/2 in. Collection of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski.

Paul J. Smith, Lenore Tawney's 20th Street Studio, 1985; digital file from the negative; dimensions variable. Courtesy of Paul J. Smith.

Lenore Tawney, Shield IV, 1966; linen, beads, and shells; 13 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. Collection of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski.

Lenore Tawney, untitled (Lekythos), 1962; linen, silk, gold, and feathers; 46 1/2 x 29 1/4 in. Collection of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, New York. Photo: Rich Maciejewski.

Yousuf Karsh, untitled (portrait of Lenore Tawney with Shadow River), 1959; digital image from the negative; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Estate of Yousuf Karsh.

Lenore Tawney, Mother Goddess, 1970; mixed media; 4-1/2 × 1-3/4 ×1-3/4 in. John Michael Kohler Arts Center Collection, gift of the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation and Kohler Foundation Inc. Photo: Rich Maciejewski.

 

Lenore Tawney (1907–2007) ranks among the most influential, though under recognized, artists of the postwar fiber movement. Given her groundbreaking approach to open-warp weaving, her adaptation of ancient textile-making processes, and her multidisciplinary study of space, structure, and line, deep consideration of her work is essential to any complete understanding of twentieth-century art. 

Artists, scholars, and friends revered Tawney for the complete integration of her art and her life. This was perhaps best illustrated in the series of New York lofts she lived and worked in from the late 1950s until her death in 2007.

Hundreds of components from Tawney’s studio were recently acquired by JMKAC from the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation with assistance from Kohler Foundation, Inc. The incorporation of many of these objects into this installation demonstrates the Art Center’s ongoing commitment to the preservation and presentation of artist-built environments.

This exhibition is supported in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.