Sheila Hicks | Why not?

Sheila Hicks | Why not?

5 March 2016 till 5 June 2016

The TextielMuseum is pleased to announce a major retrospective of American artist and textile pioneer Sheila Hicks (1934). Internationally renowned, thanks to her participation in numerous large solo and group exhibitions, this is her first appearance in the Netherlands for many years. Her colourful work, which ranges from monumental textile installations to metre-high sculptures and enchanting miniatures, has been making waves since the late 1950s. A varied selection of this free work is on display, along with examples of her textile designs – both for hand woven and industrial production. Attention is also be paid to the artist’s special and long term privileged relationship with the Netherlands. Photos, films, sketches, drawings and personal documents illustrate her peripatetic and productive life. Sheila Hicks | Why Not? includes work spanning seven decades loaned by both national and internationals museums. New works have been created especially for the TextielMuseum.,

Hicks has been fascinated by art and textiles since she was a child. In the 1950s, she trained as a painter with former Bauhaus teacher Josef Albers. She was introduced to Pre-Colombian weaving by renowned art historian George Kubler at Yale in 1956. After completing her thesis on the topic, she was awarded a scholarship to paint in Chile. During the period she spent in South America, she developed a particular interest in textiles. This interest took her all over the world, from Mexico and South Africa to Morocco and India. Wherever she went, she collaborated and exchanged knowledge with local artisans, artists and fabricators. Her colourful installations are admired worldwide and she continues to create large-scale textile projects in her studio in Paris. Her works can be found in the collections of prestigious museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Tate Modern in London. Institutions that have loaned works for the exhibition include the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Title: Sheila Hicks with 'The Treaty of Chromatic Zones' Paris. Photographer: Christobal Zanartu. 

Bond with the Netherlands
Hicks has formed a special bond with the Netherlands. Her first major solo exhibition was held in 1974 in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. During her visits to the country, she met gallery owner Cora de Vries (with whom she exhibited in the 1980s) and designer and design promotor Benno Premsela. What not many people know is that she made large wall hangings for the departure hall at Schiphol airport, titled ‘Homage to Kho Liang Ie’ (1975). These are included in the exhibition, as are the sketches of her impressive floor-transcending installation for the Provinciehuis in ’s-Hertogenbosch. The exhibition will be documented once installed and Sheila Hicks will collaborate with us to produce a catalogue of the show which will be available in the TextielShop.

Title: Minime (Benno Premsela) by Sheila Hicks. Photographer: collection of the Centraal Museum Utrecht

The exhibition
The subtitle of the exhibition ‘Why Not?’ was suggested by Hicks herself. It refers to the playfulness and perseverance – characteristics echoed in her work – that illustrate the Dutch mentality for her. Short and sweet: why not indeed?
Also included in the exhibition Sheila Hicks | Why Not? will be examples of cooperative design work with a prestigious rug weaving workshop of Guatemala as well as jacquard woven utilitarian fabrics by the California based company Momentum and the North Carolina Textile group Sunbrella – Glen Raven. The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive fringe programme. More information can be found on


This exhibition is generously supported by Fonds 21.