Textile is a universal language. In all of the cultures of the world, textile is a crucial and essential component.

Sheila Hicks

Watch Sheila Hicks: Pillar of Inquiry from the Museum of Modern Art

Sheila Hicks b. 1934

The work of trailblazing experimental fiber artist Sheila Hicks resists easy categorization. From her small-scale, rectangular weaving incorporating objects to massive architectural installations with fibers spilling like water, Hicks was critical in redefining the role of textiles in contemporary art.

While studying at Yale in the 1950s, the Nebraska native worked with Josef and Anni Albers who both had a strong influence on her practice. Hicks would go on to engage both with Josef’s innovative approach to color and Anni’s serious study of weaving. Though she initially began her career as a painter, Hicks gradually was drawn to fiber as both a painterly and sculptural medium. Along with archaeologist Junius Bird, it was Anni Albers who supervised Hicks’s thesis on pre-Incan weaving.

In 1957, Hicks traveled to Chile on a Fulbright scholarship, using the opportunity to observe the traditional textile arts of the continent’s indigenous communities. From 1959 to 1964, Hicks lived in the Mexican town of Taxco el Viejo where she continued to learn and practice folk textile forms. Bringing together her understanding of the immense possibilities of fiber and textiles with her deep appreciation for vibrant colors, Hicks moved from her small-scale, rectangular weavings to increasingly sculptural and monumental works that made full use of fiber’s pliability and material vibrancy.

Hicks formally established her studio in Paris in 1964, where she continues to work today. During that still-early stage of Hicks’s career, the legendary architect and designer Eero Saarinen offered Hicks her first major public commission, in which she created a wall-hanging for the Saarinen-designed CBS building in New York. In 1967, she received another architectural commission to create a tapestry installation for the Ford Foundation’s headquarters to create tapestries for the company’s New York headquarter, working closely with the building’s architects, Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo.

Over the decades that followed, Hicks continued to firmly establish herself in the realms of both art and design, weaving together the intimate and the monumental with a sublime seamlessness. Today her works can be found in collections that include the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Renwick Gallery, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Tate Museum, among many others.

Auction Results Sheila Hicks