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Carolyn Lanchner

[née Taeuber]

(b Davos, Jan 19, 1889; d Zurich, Jan 13, 1943).

Swiss painter, sculptor and designer. She studied textile techniques at the Ecole des Arts Appliqués in St Gall from 1908 to 1910 and then in Hamburg at the Kunstgewerbeschule in 1912. Her career began in the centre of Dada activity in Zurich between 1915 and 1920; see Symétrie pathétique, 1916–7 and Dada Composition, 1920. Although she did not date her work until the last two years of her life, its chronology was reconstructed by Hugo Weber from the testimony of her husband, Hans Arp, and from internal evidence.

Taeuber-Arp’s work evolved in groups, each characterized by a distinctive use of formal elements. The first prevailing format was a horizontal–vertical sectioning of a square or vertical rectangular ground, as in Pillow Sham, a wool embroidery (c. 1916; Zurich, Mus. Bellerive). Its structure reveals the importance of her textile training as much as the influence of Cubism. Her austerely geometric art arose from her belief in the innate expressive power of colour, line and form, and was informed by unusual wit and freedom. She rejected her contemporaries’ progressive schematization of objective form. During the years of Dada in Zurich (...