The Centre Pompidou is to devote a solo exhibition to Sheila Hicks, an American artist based in Paris since the mid-1960s. Looking back at Hicks’ career from 1957 to the present day, more than a hundred works will be displayed in Galerie 3, overlooking the city of Paris. The exhibition invites the public to discover the various expressions of an art that uses cotton, wool, linen and silk to enrich our perceptions of colour, material and space.
«Sheila Hicks. Lignes de vie [Life Lines]» casts a new light on the artist’s work that has been reviewed over the past years. Some twenty pieces have now joined the Centre Pompidou’s collection thanks to a major donation to the Musée National d’Art Moderne. The exhibition’s fluid and non-chronological circuit is structured around a formal and chromatic dialogue between the artworks and the space.
Alongside sculptures - some of them are monumental - the exhibition includes dozens of Minimes : small, A4-sized woven pieces or compositions, forming a sort of laboratory for her entire work, and expressing her enthusiastic creativity.
During her studies at Yale University in the late 1950s, Sheila Hicks discovered the splendours and subtleties of pre-Columbian textiles. She also appropriated the legacy of the Bauhaus through the teachings of Josef Albers, then began creating works that shook up the hierarchy of artistic practices, moving freely between fine art, design and decoration. Under the influence of Albers, a colour theorist and artist, and then the great Mexican architect Luis Barragan, Hicks developed the genuine "chromophilia" that has imbued all her work ever since.
During the second half of the 1960s, going beyond the tapestry model that had hit her to dominated textile work, she created "soft sculptures", which have become iconic pieces (The Evolving Tapestry : He/She – MoMA and Banisteropsis – Philadelphia Museum of Art). Piled up pieces of wool and linen that can be reinterpreted at every new showing, they reflected a line of thinking similar to that of contemporary Antiform and post-minimalist artists. In the following decade, she began a series of large soft sculptures (Trapèze de Cristobal – Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Lianes nantaises – Château des Ducs de Bretagne). Made from vibrant lines of fiber, falling from the ceiling and filling the space with colour, they represented one of her major contributions to the art of the 1970s.
Sheila Hicks works have also played a historic role in embodying a renewed meeting of haptic and optical perception. Through its malleable nature, textile gives life to works that are no longer bound by a fixed form. Deformable, stretchable and supple, it adapts and transforms, giving fresh vitality in diverse circumstances to every new location and installation. Thus, her installations adapt to their various environments as they play along with the laws of gravity. The exhibition’s bilingual catalogue (French/English) is published by the Editions du Centre Pompidou with the contribution of Michel Gauthier (curator of the exhibition), Monique Lévi-Strauss and Cécile Godefroy.