T1-MMT-P5-s2 Research – Claire Falkenstein

I tripped over a reference to this artist and wish I had known of her work at the beginning of this Assignment. Falkenstein’s work is included in an exhibition opening in a couple of days in Los Angeles – Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016 (link).

In her oral history Falkenstein talks about the vocabulary she developed – “the never-ending screen, the sign and the ensemble, topological structure, lattice structure, and then the combination sometimes of any two or any three”. She later explains more about each: “a topological structure in the sense that all of the curving parts of the tubic structure makes the idea of penetration and then surfacing”, and “the surface becomes the interior”, with constant motion; “the sign in the ensemble, because the sign is the sign of the “u” and it’s in repetition over and over, which would be causing the ensemble”, by which I understand the sign is a chosen unit, and then multiples in a pattern or rhythm or continuance form the ensemble. Interval, harmony and relationships are important. The never-ending screen is a lattice Falkenstein developed which has the movement of topological structure and also allows vision, transparency. Instead of a single visual focus there could be innumerable moving focal points in an expanding space. One of the exciting things about this form is its ability to move from quite shallow to very three dimensional.

Claire Falkenstein  Villa La Saracena Pubic domain: source http://www.archidiap.com/opera/villa-la-saracena/

Claire Falkenstein
Villa La Saracena
Pubic domain: source http://www.archidiap.com/opera/villa-la-saracena/

Falkenstein found freedom in looking within for inspiration and meaning, using external models as a point of departure allowing her to express what she felt about the model, rather than attempting to represent its form. Feeling and expression – definitely not copying. While influenced by the wider world, by looking within she was able to establish her own identity.

I find Falkenstein’s explanation of her vocabulary and the importance of looking within fascinating. These fed her creative energy and direction, and she was still working actively, continuing to explore, excited about her results, in her eighties. I also was struck by a description of some of her works “which explore motion, by either rotating, falling, sliding, turning or interlocking” (Larinde, p. 51). This seems to link to some of Eva Hesse’s work in not-exact repetition, and also reminds me of methods of developing designs for continuous fabric patterns.

Falkenstein was experimental in her use of materials, such as aluminium, plastics and welding, and in her forms and techniques. This seems very relevant to my current course – although unfortunately a little late to take too much advantage.

Sample p5-4

Sample p5-4

Sample p5-33

Sample p5-33

The phrase “enclosing space with line” (Larinde, p. 52) had me thinking of sample p5-4 (31-Jan-2016), suggesting ways of developing the strong lines of stitching and the voids and semi-transparency of the distorted organza. It also fits with original intention of exploring space with the presentation of my collection. Possibly a few samples, such as p5-33 (6-Mar-2016) move towards that goal, but I think a re-focus may be necessary.

Falkenstein made a number of fountains, and I find Larinde’s description of the approach interesting: “a form that forced her to think in terms of the unity of structure and the flow of water so that there would be no dispersion, no separation of the liquid from the fluid metal” (Larinde, p. 53). Earlier this week I had an invigorating conversation about the possibilities of photographing my pieces in a flow of water (thank you Claire!), but so far I haven’t come up with an idea that seemed workable and with bearable risk to equipment.

Of great interest to my presentation concerns is a video of an exhibition presented by Jack Rutberg Fine Arts in Los Angeles, “Claire Falkenstein: An Expansive Universe” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mr0oUaBUkkA. A still of that video is shown below.

Claire Falkenstein  An Explansive Universe

Claire Falkenstein
An Explansive Universe

Claire Falkenstein  An Explansive Universe view 2

Claire Falkenstein
An Explansive Universe
view 2

Sample p2-18

Sample p2-18

The objects themselves feel almost familiar to me. It feels presumptuous to write that Falkenstein’s Topological Form reminded me of the curves of p2-18 (19-Jun-2015). The presentation of works in the exhibition dovetails with my early imaginings of what I wanted to simulate in my work. Finally the video itself, the way it presents the collection of works in context with each other and then examines each one from a distance and closeup is inspiring – although entirely beyond my equipment resources and skills.


Larinde, N. (1980) ‘Claire Falkenstein’ In: Woman’s Art Journal 1(1) pp.50–55. [online] At: http://doi.org/10.2307/1358019 (Accessed on 10 March 2016)

Oral history interview with Claire Falkenstein, 1995 Mar. 2-21, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [online] At: http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-claire-falkenstein-12659 (Accessed on 10March 2016)

T1-MMT-P5-s2 Research – Claire Falkenstein
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 5: A final piece
Stage 2: Research
Claire Falkenstein

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


No Instagram images were found.

Calendar of Posts

March 2016

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



%d bloggers like this: