MIDCENTURY ARTIST LENORE TAWNEY OFFERED A RADICAL VISION OF WHAT WEAVING COULD BE

Lenore Tawney in her Coenties Slip studio, New York, 1958.MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK. © LENORE TAWNEY. PHOTO DAVID ATTIE/COURTESY LENORE G. TAWNEY FOUNDATION, NEW YORK.

IN HER 1965 TREATISE ON WEAVINGthe pioneering weaver Anni Albers praises Coptic and ancient Peruvian textiles for their sophisticated formal structure—a quality she argues is lacking in contemporary weaving. Yet, she writes, certain recent fiber works do hold interest, including some that trespass into the realm of sculpture.¹ She illustrates her point with photographs of Lenore Tawney’s Dark River (1962), a commanding, flawlessly executed weaving that is considered one of the artist’s masterpieces.

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