philadelphia

View of “Sheila Hicks,” 2011. Foreground: May I Have This Dance? (detail), 2002–2003. Back-ground: La Mémoire, 1972/2010.

Sheila Hicks

ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

View of “Sheila Hicks,” 2011. Foreground: May I Have This Dance? (detail), 2002–2003. Back-ground: La Mémoire, 1972/2010.

Vanishing Yellow (1964/2004) is very small, at least in comparison to the many works Sheila Hicks has made whose scale verges on the architectural. Yet, at barely 9 x 8 inches, this simple cotton-thread composition exemplifies the genius of the seventy-seven-year-old fiber artist, whose first major career retrospective opened at the ICA Philadelphia this past spring. Employing a basic slit-weave construction, Hicks has anointed the lower-left quadrant of this coarse-threaded off-white woven “painting” with yellow horizontal bands. The resultant object is as intimate as a manuscript illumination and yet no less arresting for its materialism and compositional abstraction. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Hicks was a student of the great colorist Josef Albers, who instructed her in the mid- to late 1950s while teaching at Yale University, as well as of art historian George Kubler

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