About this work
Fabric, metal, and wool
69 5/8 x 19 3/4 x 20 1/2 in.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
In her own words...
One moist Paris evening in 1969, in a mood of melancholy reflection, I sat in a concert at the Maison de la Radio, listening to a composer (Karlheintz Stockhausen) conduct his piece, “Hymnen,” a music that jolted me out of my negative thoughts and incredibly but clearly showed me what I had to do. Spinning among the unearthly sounds of “Hymnen” were the earthy even organic shapes that I would make, had to make, out of cloth and wool; I saw them so clearly, living materials becoming living sculptures, their life-span something like ours. Fugacious they would be, and fragile, to please me, their creator and survivor. I was suddenly content and powerful as I looked around. No one knew what was going on inside me. I had forgotten about “Hymnen,” only noticing when it ended and everyone stood up, and I felt potent and seminal the way one does about works that have not yet happened.
This, then, was the genesis of what became five years of sculpture activity. Carried on in my studio in Seillans, the work did not involve familiar canvas or paint but carded wool and endless lengths of sensuous tweeds, the chopping up of which provided thrills of a kind very close to lust with its attendant peril.
Sometimes I remembered that musical evening where a risk had been taken and tamed. And where my melancholy had dissolved before the fact. An artist is the sum of his risks, I thought, the life and death kind. So, in league with my sewing machine, I pulled and stitched and stuffed the banal materials of human clothing in a transformational process where the most astonished witness was myself. Almost before I knew it I had an “oeuvre,” a family of sculptures that were the avatars, three-dimensional ones, of my two-dimensional painted universe.
–from Between Lives: An Artist and Her World. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001, pp. 281-282.