Lenore Tawney (1907–2007) stands as an influential figure in the fiber movement, and the impact of her groundbreaking practice continues to reverberate.
Raised Ohio and trained in Chicago, Tawney moved to New York in the 1950s to dedicate herself to her art practice, ultimately becoming a major force in redefining postwar weaving. One of the first artists to apply sculptural techniques to weaving practices, Tawney pioneered a new direction in fiber–based practices, and by extension, in contemporary art. Improvisational, experimental, and deeply personal, Tawney’s interdisciplinary oeuvre also spanned drawing, collage, and assemblage.
Throughout her career, Tawney lived in a series of lofts, each serving as both home and studio. She surrounded herself with things that propelled an art practice forward. Organic items such as feathers, eggs, and bones were arranged in her space alongside studio tools, skeins of thread, collectibles, and mementos she acquired in her extensive travels. Her search for the spiritual transcended all aspects of her life and is reflected throughout the body of her work.
Lenore Tawney ranks among the most influential, though underrecognized, artists of the postwar fiber movement. Her innovative approach to weaving, her adaptation of ancient textile-making processes, and her multidisciplinary study of space, structure, and line warrants deep consideration for a more complete understanding of twentieth-century art.