Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Why is the artist being remembered today?

19 Jan 2016

Sophie Taeuber-Arp's 'Composition géométrique verticale-horizontale (triptyque)' via Taco Ekkel/CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

Google’s latest Doodle celebrates the work of Sophie Taeuber-Arp on what would be her 127th birthday, with the search engine’s homepage as abstract as ever.

Looking muddled, blocky and, well, much like the work of Sophie Taeuber-Arp, today’s Google Doodle is all about the Swiss artist.

Google Doodle Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Amazing talent

Future Human

An artist and sculptor, Taeuber-Arp was born on this day in 1889, pioneering ‘geometric abstraction’ as an art form throughout the 20th century – becoming a powerful force in the Dada artistic movement.

Geometric abstraction, although two words you may never have put together, is fairly self-explanatory and can be (partly) envisaged by pixelating images on your smartphone to the degree that they are merely whispers of what the original image was. Other examples would be objects represented by colourful  lines or other shapes.

Taeuber-Arp’s minimalistic style marks her out as one of the most important artists in recent history, with her style reflected in textile artwork, marionettes, interiors, drawings, paintings, reliefs and sculptures.

Born in Davos, she studied in Munich before meeting and marrying French sculptor and painter Hans Arp, thus taking his name. Between them, the duo created elaborate, abstract projects celebrated to this day, with the Swiss 50-franc note a constant reminder of her importance to Swiss history.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s compositions hold much cultural significance, Official website of Art Museum in Łódź/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

A grand experiment

Today’s Doodle, by artist Mark Holmes, was a grand artistic experiment in itself, with each of his efforts a celebration of particular Taeuber-Arp creations.

“‘Doodling’ other artists gives us the chance to truly appreciate their work through the study and deconstruction of their art,” said Holmes.

“Our challenge, of course, is to reinterpret the work and integrate it with our ubiquitous ‘Google’ in a manner that remains faithful to the artist’s spirit without being a simple reproduction of their work, or so modified that it is unrecognisable.

“The rough drafts below, featuring my ‘doodled’ versions to the left and her original works to the right, should give a sense of the challenge in balancing legibility with the spirit of authenticity.”

Sophie Taeuber-Arp

Main image of Sophie Taeuber-Arp’s ‘Composition géométrique verticale-horizontale (triptyque)’ via Taco Ekkel/CC BY-SA 2.0/Wikimedia Commons

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic