Lenore Tawney Working

Night Bird (1958) and Lenore in her South Street NYC studio working on Vespers, 1961. Photo by Ferdinand Boesch. Then Lenore at work on a tapestry circa 1966. Photo by Nina Leen.

Lenore in her NYC studio, 1958. Photo by David Attie.

The Bride Has Entered (1982) and Lenore at work on a tapestry. Photo by Nina Leen, published in LIFE, July 29, 1966. Then Yellows (1958) and Yousuf Karsh’s portrait of Lenore, 1959.

Union of Water and Fire (1974), photo by Tom Grotta. Then, Union of Water and Fire II (1964) and Lenore’s first solo show at the Elaine Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton NY in 1967. Eye spy Noguchi!

Bound Man (1957), photo by Ed Watkins. Then another photo of Lenore by Nina Leen, this one from 1969. Then a picture of something I know about but I don’t know who captured it.

“I’m not just patiently doing it,” she said of such work. “It’s done with devotion.”

Waters Above the Firmament (1976) and Lenore in her NYC studio with Dove (1974). Photo by Clayton Price. Then a view of Lenore in her studio.

Verdi (1967) then Four-Armed Cloud (1979), pictured with dancer Andy de Groat at the New Jersey State Museum. Then Discours Historique (1966), photo by George Erml.

Lenore working in 1979. Photo by George Erml. Then Lenore’s loft in 1994 as photographed by William Seitz. And a blissed out working Lenore dressed to match her loom set up.

Lenore Tawney, a great and tough beauty, lived to see 100 years. She studied sculpture with Alexander Archipenko, drawing with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and weaving with Marli Ehrman at the Art Institute of Chicago. Later she studied tapestry with the Finnish weaver Martta Taipale at Penland School of Crafts, where the weaving studio is heaven on earth. After some personal turmoil and travels, she went to New York and stayed working there for the rest of her day, breaking art rules. “I left Chicago,” she later wrote, “to seek a barer life, closer to reality, without all the things that clutter and fill our lives. The truest thing in my life was my work. I wanted my life to be as true. I almost gave up my life for my work, seeking a life of the spirit.” Sound familiar? She and Agnes Martin were close.

There is a really nice corral of images at the American Craft Council site, along with an article published in American Craft Magazine, in 2008, called “Lenore Tawney: Spiritual Revolutionary.”  I wish I could meet Lenore.

“I’m following the path of the heart. I don’t know where the path is going.”

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