Collector Elisabeth van der Does-Szantyr on two Sheila Hicks shows in Paris

“The Hicks survey at the Centre Pompidou is extremely well done, her beautiful fiber pieces triumphing over the Pompidou’s rather difficult street-level space.”

“Sheila Hicks: Life Lines”
through April 30, 2018
Centre Pompidou

“Sheila Hicks: Au-delà
through June 1, 2018
Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris

On view in Paris now are two shows of work by Sheila Hicks, who has lived in the city since 1964.

The Hicks survey at the Centre Pompidou is extremely well done, her beautiful fiber pieces triumphing over the Pompidou’s rather difficult street-level space. Included here is The Evolving Tapestry: He/She (1967–68), a sculpture comprising hundreds of linen and silk “ponytails” that shifts shape with each exhibition. It was in a show at MoMA when I worked there nearly 50 years ago. That show, “Wall Hangings,” was co-curated by Mildred Constantine, a consultant to the museum’s architecture and design department, and weaver Jack Lenor Larsen. Constantine was a great champion of textile and fiber art, and “Wall Hangings” brought together works by 28 international fiber artists. While it’s significant that it was the MoMA department of architecture and design rather than that of painting and sculpture that presented the exhibition, it was nevertheless very innovative for its time. When I saw the work again at the Pompidou, it made me think of Constantine, whom I knew well in those days, and admired.

Installation view of “Sheila Hicks: Life Lines,” February 7-April 30, 2018, at the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Copyright © Centre Pompidou/Philippe Migeat.

There is also a smaller show of Hicks’s work at the Musée d’Art moderne, where the artist responded to the neon sculpture by Lucio Fontana that hangs in the museum’s reception area with Au-delà, an installation of fiber objects that resemble colored pebbles or stones. They make a very interesting pairing.

Sheila Hicks, Au-delà, 2017 (installation view), cotton, linen, synthetic fibers, leather, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris. Photo copyright © Pierre Antoine.

I highly recommend visiting both exhibitions. It’s always fascinating how it changes an artist’s work to see it in two very different spaces and contexts.