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Sophie Taeuber-Arp and the Avant-Garde

A Biography

Sophie Taeuber-Arp was a quiet innovator whose fame has too often been yoked to that of her husband, Jean Arp. Over time, however, she has slowly come to be seen as one of the foremost abstract artists and designers of the twentieth century. The Swiss-born Taeuber-Arp had a front row seat to the first wave of Dadaism and was, along with Mondrian and Malevich, a pioneer of Constructivism. Her singular artwork incorporated painting, sculpture, dance, fiber arts, and architecture, as hers was one of the first oeuvres to successfully bridge the divide between fine and functional art.
Now Roswitha Mair has brought us the first biography of this unique polymath, illuminating not just Tauber-Arp’s own life and work, but also the various milieux and movements in which she traveled.  No fan of the Dadaists and their legacy will want to miss this first English-language translation.

288 pages | 15 color plates, 38 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2018

Art: Art--Biography, European Art

Biography and Letters

Women's Studies


"Roswitha Mair’s biography of Sophie Taeuber, first published in German in 2013, delves into a range of unpublished sources, not only those held at the Fondation Arp in Paris, but also those still in the keeping of the Taeuber family, among them her elder sister’s letters and diaries. This trove – it even includes the original plan for the Trogen house – is especially helpful in building a picture of Sophie’s early life."

London Review of Books

"The writing, in a highly readable translation by Damion Searls, is lucid and direct. The entire story, presented in just under two hundred pages, has an easy, agile pace."

New York Review of Books

“The biography greatly benefits from Mair’s access to private diaries and letters . . . . Mair’s biographical account effectively exposes the risks and challenges facing European women artists in the early twentieth century.”

Woman's Art Journal

“A biography of Sophie Taeuber is, without question, a necessary project, and Mair answers this need with an engaging and finely crafted book. It will be valuable, not only for historians’ reevaluation of Taeuber’s career but also for a general appreciation of the complexities and contradictions of the fascinating years in which she lived and worked.”

Megan R. Luke, University of Southern California

Table of Contents


One     1889–1908
Davos * Trogen * The Taeuber Pension * Schooling and Education

Two     1908–1914
St. Gallen * Munich

Three   1914–1919
Zurich * Hans Arp * Coffeehouse Revolution * Cabaret Voltaire and Dada * Beginning of a Partnership * Monte Verità * Hans Arp’s Capers * Galerie Dada * Dada Heads and Marionettes

Four     1919–1929
After the War * Away from Zurich * Arp-Taeuber, Taeuber-Arp * Summer with Schwitters * The Isms of Art * The Aubette *

Five     1929–1933
Meudon * Surrealists and Others

Six       1933–1940
The Third Reich * Collectors and Collaborations * Schwitters, Mondrian, Laban, and Others * Dualities * The War Approaches

Seven  1940–1943
Grasse * Zurich Once More * Final Constructions


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