Biography

Writing in 1973, Monique Lévi-Strauss described Sheila Hicks’s (b. Hastings, Nebraska, 1934) life as ‘a tissue of threads woven together on purpose or through chance, fertile encounters’. While decades have passed since Lévi-Strauss offered this overview, her words remain continually relevant. Since the 1970s, Hicks has established herself as one of the most distinctive artists of her generation. Working to manoeuvre colour, texture and form, the Paris-based artist has produced a rich and complex body of large-scale bas-reliefs, sculptures and installations that indulge in material tactility and the collective experience of space.

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Hicks was born in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1934, but she was nomadic from an early age: growing up in the Midwest during the Depression, her father spent much of his time on the road. (‘I always say I grew up in a car’, she told Artforum in 2019.) From 1954–59, Hicks studied painting with Josef Albers at Yale School of Art; during this time, she attended art historian George Kubler’s class on pre-Columbian art and archeology. ‘I was interested in how the pre-Incas structured thought with threads, with lines’, she told Jennifer Higgie in 2015. ‘The richness of the pre-Incaic textile language is the most complex of any textile culture in history’.

It was while writing a paper on ancient Andean Textiles for Kubler’s class that Hicks taught herself to weave on a backstrap loom of tree branches and assemble threads on a small frame made of painting stretchers. (To this day, she uses painting stretchers to create intimate works, which she refers to as minimes.) In 1957, Hicks was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, which enabled her to travel extensively around South America, methodically documenting and photographing. She lived and worked in Guerrero, Mexico, from 1959 until 1964, where ‘people made everything that they wore’, as she told the artist Anicka Yi of her time on the Pacific coast, ‘including their shoes’.

Hicks is at her most recognisable when producing monumental hangings, tapestries, bas-reliefs and sculptures: The Questioning Column (2016), first installed at the entrance of the 2016 Sydney Biennale, rose to over 7 metres; Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands, presented at the 2017 Venice Biennale, saw an avalanche of synthetic, brilliantly colored bales piled up to the ceiling of the Arsenale. For the 2020 iteration of the Nuit Blanche festival in Paris, Hicks suspended a luminous constellation of comets from the colonnades connecting the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris and the Palais de Tokyo, an architectural reminder of the fleeting nature of lived experience.

On a contrasting scale, Hicks’s intimate minimes allow a valuable glimpse into the artist’s habitual, incessant making process, as well as her enduring interest in construction and material relationships. The works are exemplary of the fact that, for Hicks, spectacle is never the sole ambition. Regardless of scale, hers is a project of tactility, sensuality, hapticity; of felt connection and the communication thereof. ‘Hands, eyes, brain’, notes Hicks, ‘it’s the magic triangulation. It comes from passion, heart and intellect inseparably cemented to your times and to your emotional experiences’.

  1. Leslie Camhi, ‘A Career Woven from Life’, New York Times, 31 March 2011
  2. Sheila Hicks, ‘Sheila Hicks on Her Life and Art’, Artforum, 04 June 2019
  3. Jennifer Higgie, ‘Fibre Is My Alphabet’, frieze, 20 February 2015
  4. Anicka Yi, ‘Sheila Hicks: My work is associated with sensuality’, Interview, 2 April 2018
  5. Higgie, 2015

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Works

Infinite Potential, 2023

Pigmented synthetic acrylic fibre
270 x 786 x 600 cm (106 1/4 x 309 1/2 x 236 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Arc-en-ciel, 2023

Synthetic fibers, cotton, linen and silk
168 x 290 cm (66 1/8 x 114 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Embrace Me Today, 2023

Cotton, linen and synthetic fibres
Diameter: 87 cm (34 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Enduring Greatness, 2018

Linen
100 x 100 cm (39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

Serene Simplicity, 2023

Linen, wood
60 x 60 cm (23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Faja, 1959-60

Linen
Unframed: 17 x 77 cm (6 3/4 x 30 1/4 in); framed: 29 x 91 cm (11 3/8 x 35 7/8 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Iowa, 2022

Cotton and razor clams on canvas
33 x 42 cm (13 x 16 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Together is Better, 2023

Linen, cotton and wool
140 x 270 cm (55 1/8 x 106 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Talking sticks, 2021-23

Linen, cotton, silk, nylon and bamboo
241 x 375 cm( 94 7/8 x 147 5/8 in); installation dimensions variable
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Memories Enveloped, 2023

Linen, hand-spun wool, cotton and synthetic thread
Diameter: 90 cm (35 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Untitled, 1988

Woven rayon, nylon
Unframed: 22.9 x 12.7 cm (9 x 5 in); framed: 44.2 x 34.5 cm (17 3/8 x 13 5/8 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

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Nowhere To Go, 2022

Pigmented acrylic fibre
910 x 600 cm (204 3/4 x 358 1/4 x 236 1/4 in)
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

La Sentinelle de safran, 2017

Pigmented fibre
Dimensions variable
Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks

Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands, 2016–17

Natural and synthetic fibres, cloth, slate and bamboo
600 x 1600 x 400 cm (236 1/4 x 629 7/8 x 157 1/2 in)
Installation view, Venice Biennale, 2017. Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks; photo: Andrea Avezzù

Mighty Mathilde and Her Consort, 2016

Linen and pigmented man-made fibres, bound treasures, fish and pigeon nets
600 x 500 x 400 cm (236 1/4 x 196 7/8 x 157 1/2 in)
Installation view, Glasgow International, 2016. Courtesy: © Sheila Hicks; photo: Michael Brzezinski

The Column of Inquiry, 2016

Acrylic fibers
800 x 150 cm (315 x 59 1/8 in)
Installation view, 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016. Courtesy: Biennale of Sydney © Sheila Hicks

  • Infinite Potential, 2023
  • Arc-en-ciel, 2023
  • Embrace Me Today, 2023
  • Enduring Greatness, 2018
  • Serene Simplicity, 2023
  • Faja, 1959-60
  • Iowa, 2022
  • Together is Better, 2023
  • Talking sticks, 2021-23
  • Memories Enveloped, 2023
  • Untitled, 1988
  • Nowhere To Go, 2022
  • La Sentinelle de safran, 2017
  • Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands, 2016–17
  • Mighty Mathilde and Her Consort, 2016
  • The Column of Inquiry, 2016

Press

Unravel review – a gorgeously excessive tangled knot of a show, full of blood, pain and pleasure

Adrian Searle, The Guardian

February 2024

Sheila Hicks

Sophie Travers, NGV Magazine

February 2024

‘Wake ‘em up!’ This legendary artist is coming to Melbourne

John McDonald, Financial Review

October 2023

Sheila Hicks: Ich habe mich nie als Künstlerin gesehen

Christoph Amend, Zeit Magazin

August 2023

Travelling Threads arrive at the Pompidou in Malaga

Francisco Griñan, Sur in English

June 2023

Alison Jacques expands in London

Melanie Gerlis, Financial Times

April 2023

Another amazing year for female artists. So why are they still stifled and impoverished?

Hettie Judah, The Guardian

December 2022

London’s leading female gallerists who are changing the art world forever

Amah-Rose Abrams & Eloise Hendy, The Glossary

October 2022

Sheila Hicks: Off Grid

Toby Kamps, The Brooklyn Rail

August 2022

Common Threads

Martina Margetts, Crafts magazine

May 2022

Review: Sheila Hicks – Off Grid at Hepworth Wakefield

Tabish Khan, FAD Magazine

April 2022

Sheila Hicks: Off Grid

Beth Williamson, Studio International

April 2022

Sheila Hicks on Off-Grid at Hepworth Wakefield: ‘My works need to be touched!’

Hettie Judah, The i newspaper

April 2022

Sheila Hicks Review – craftsmanship and radical ambition weave an eerie spell

Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times

April 2022

‘Colour is in my blood!’: the vivid life of artist Sheila Hicks

Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian

April 2022

Sheila Hicks Just Keeps Spinning

Ted Loos, W Magazine

March 2022

Les fils prodiges de l’artiste Sheila Hicks

Emmanuelle Lequeux, Le Monde

March 2022

This Spring, Art’s Elder Stateswomen Exhibit Their Extraordinary Talents

Kin Woo, Vogue

March 2022

Fibre Optics

Yasmine Seale, Apollo

September 2021

London Gallery Weekend: art exhibitions to see in the city

Harriet Lloyd-Smith, Wallpaper

June 2021

In the studio with… Sheila Hicks

Apollo

May 2021

Sheila Hicks: Narrative Thread

Caroline Roux, FT Weekend Magazine

May 2021

Review: Sheila Hicks, MAK

Brigitte Huck, Artforum

April 2021

What to Look Forward to in 2021

Amy Sherlock, frieze

January 2021

Sheila Hicks: Studio Visit

Paolo Roversi, Luncheon

October 2020

Sheila Hicks: Ravelling and Unravelling

Blaire Dessent, TL Magazine

August 2020

Stella McCartney & Sheila Hicks Talk Mindfulness in Fashion

Andy Battaglia, ARTnews

August 2020

Women’s Art Is Every Kind of Art

Julianne McShane, The New York Times

March 2020

Behind the Scenes of MoMA’s Reinvention

Deborah Solomon, The New York Times

October 2019

The Women Weavers of the Bauhaus

Alexxa Gotthardt, Artsy

September 2019

Epic Yarns

Alice Cavanagh, WSJ Magazine

August 2019

Sheila Hicks on Her Life and Art

Grant Johnson, Artforum

June 2019

Sheila Hicks on Success, Intuition and Not Wanting a Legacy

Lainey R. Sidell, Surface

May 2019

Sheila Hicks Is Still Making Defiant, Honest Art

Alina Cohen, Artsy

May 2019

How Sheila Hicks Changed the Way We Think About Sculpture

Glenn Adamson, frieze

April 2019

Sheila Hicks’s Textiles are the Antidote to our Modern World

Jessica Klingelfuss, Wallpaper

November 2018

Sheila Hicks Says There Are No Limitations – And We Believe Her!

Sander Lak, Garage

September 2018

My Encounters with Anni Albers

Sheila Hicks, Tate Etc.

September 2018

Review: Sheila Hicks, Centre Pompidou

Louise Blouin, Blouin Artinfo

April 2018

Weave an Impression

Helen Chislett, Financial Times: How To Spend It

April 2018

Women Continue to Be Overlooked

Sebastien Smee, The Washington Post

April 2018

Review: Sheila Hicks, Centre Pompidou

Grant Klarich Johnson, The Brooklyn Rail

April 2018

Sheila Hicks: ‘My Work is Associated with Sensuality’

Anicka Yi, Interview

April 2018

Sheila Hicks Takes The Pompidou

Lauren Collins, The New Yorker

March 2018

Some of the Most Provocative Art is Made with Fibers

Leslie Camhi, The New York Times Style Magazine

March 2018

Review: Sheila Hicks, Centre Pompidou

Yuki Higashino, Artforum

March 2018

Sheila Hicks, Libre y Omnipresente

Alex Vicente, El Pais

February 2018

Sheila Hicks ravit le marché

Éléonore Théry, Le Quotidien de l’Art

February 2018

Review: Sheila Hicks, Centre Pompidou

l’Express

February 2018

l’art spectaculaire de Sheila Hicks ne tient qu’à un fil

Florence Dauly, Telerama

February 2018

Sheila Hicks: An American with Wool in Paris

Anna Sansom, The Art Newspaper

February 2018

Review: Sheila Hicks, Centre Pompidou

Jenni Sorkin, Artforum

February 2018

Review: Sheila Hicks, Alison Jacques Gallery

Isabella Smith, ArtReview

November 2017

The Woven Wonders of Sheila Hicks

Emma Crichton-Miller, Apollo

October 2017

Review: Sheila Hicks, Alison Jacques Gallery

Blouin Artinfo

October 2017

Review: Sheila Hicks, Alison Jacques Gallery

Athena Waligore, Interior Design

October 2017

Thread to Thread with Sheila Hicks

Elly Parsons, Wallpaper

October 2017

Review: Sheila Hicks, Alison Jacques Gallery

Brook Mason, Architectural Digest

October 2017

Reinventing the World

Jane Morris, The Art Newspaper

May 2017

Sheila Hicks Will Spin Her Threads on the High Line

Hilarie M. Sheets, The New York Times

May 2017

Woven Wonder

Brook Mason, Wallpaper

October 2015

Sheila Hicks: New Yarns

Kirsty Bell, Tate Etc.

March 2015

Sheila Hicks: Fibre is My Alphabet

Jennifer Higgie, frieze

February 2015

Tapestries from the 60s, Woven Anew

Robin Pogrebin, The New York Times

October 2014

Sheila Hicks: ‘I Am Never Bored’

Karen Wright, The Independent

July 2014

A Fashion Runway Hit Gets a Department Store Makeover

Ray A. Smith, The Wall Street Journal

April 2014

Artist Sheila Hicks Turns Textiles Into Sculpture

Melissa Feldman, Architectural Digest

April 2014

Sheila Hicks in Conversation

Danielle Mysliwiec, The Brooklyn Rail

April 2014

Review: Sheila Hicks, Alison Jacques Gallery

Zehra Jumabhoy, Artforum

October 2013

The Dreamer Arranges Reality

Carla Hanzal, Sculpture Magazine

September 2013

Sex with Sheila Hicks

Donald Moffett, Art in America

November 2012

Review: Sheila Hicks, ICA Philadelphia

Lauren O’Neil-Butler, Artforum

May 2011

Reweaving Sheila Hicks

Faye Hirsch, Art in America

April 2011

Warp Factor

Shonquis Moreno, Wallpaper

April 2011

A Career Woven From Life

Lesli Camhi, The New York Times

March 2011

In the Woof and Warp of Miniatures

Kathryn Shattuck, The New York Times

September 2006

Exhibitions

Sheila Hicks: Infinite Potential

6 October – 18 November 2023

Of the Surface of Things

24 February30 April 2022

Sheila Hicks: Music To My Eyes

4 June31 July 2021

Sheila Hicks: Stones of Peace

4 October11 November 2017

Books

Sheila Hicks

The Hepworth Wakefield

2023

Sheila Hicks: Thread Trees River

Arnoldsche

2021

Sheila Hicks: Reencuentro–Reencounter

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

2019

Sheila Hicks: Lignes De Vie / Lifelines

Centre Pompidou

2018

Sheila Hicks, Free Threads: Textile and Its Pre-Hispanic Roots

Museo Amparo

2018

Sheila Hicks: Material Voices

Redleaf Press

2017

Sheila Hicks: Why Not?

Nederlands Textielmuseum

2017

Sheila Hicks: Apprentissages

JRP | RINGIER

2017

Sheila Hicks: Farandoulo

Espace Muraille

2016

Sheila Hicks: Pêcher dans La Rivière

Alison Jacques Gallery

2013

Sheila Hicks: 50 Years

Susan C. Faxon, Joan Simon, Whitney Chadwick

2010

Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor

Yale University Press

2006

News

Sheila Hicks & Dorothea Tanning

in ‘HARD/SOFT Textiles and Ceramics in Contemporary Art’, MAK Vienna

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art’, The Barbican, London

Sheila Hicks: NGV TRIENNIAL 2023

National Gallery of Victoria

Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers, Shiela Hicks, Veronica Ryan and Lenore Tawney

in ‘Making Their Mark’, Shar Garg Foundation, New York

Sheila Hicks

in ‘To Weave the Sky: Textile Abstractions from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection’, El Espacio 23, Miami

Sheila Hicks

Parvis de L’Institut de France, Paris

Sheila Hicks

Awarded the 2023 U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts

Sheila Hicks: Threads that Travel

Centre Pompidou Málaga

Sheila Hicks, 2019. Photo: Cristobal Zanartu, 2019

Sheila Hicks: Infinite Potential

Alison Jacques, London

Sheila Hicks: a little bit of a lot of things

Kunstmuseum St.Gallen

Sheila Hicks

Awarded Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for service to the arts

Sheila Hicks: New Public Commission, King’s Cross

Woven Wonders is on view at Coal Drops Yard until 16 October

Sheila Hicks in Conversation with Katy Hessel

The Great Women Artists Podcast

Sheila Hicks: Off Grid

The Hepworth Wakefield

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Installative Textiles. From Medium to Place’, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Here, Now’, Misk Art Institute, Riyadh

Sheila Hicks

Cleveland Museum of Art

Sheila Hicks & The Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers

in Art Basel OVR: Portals

Lygia Clark, Sheila Hicks & Lenore Tawney

in ‘Women in Abstraction’, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Sheila Hicks & Lenore Tawney

in ‘Crafting America’, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Diversity United’, Tempelhof, Berlin

Sheila Hicks

in HORST Festival, Belgium

Sheila Hicks in conversation with Tyler Green

The Modern Art Notes Podcast

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Artists and the Rothko Chapel’, Moody Center, Houston

Sheila Hicks & Lenore Tawney

in ‘Objects: USA 2020’, R & Company, New York

Lygia Clark, Sheila Hicks & Dorothea Tanning

in ‘Making & Unmaking’, Camden Arts Centre, London

Sheila Hicks & Ian Kiaer

in ‘Nuit Blanche 2020’, Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Glasgow International Festival’, Tramway, Glasgow

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Viva Arte Viva’, La Biennale di Venezia

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Apprentissages’, Musée Carnavalet, Paris

Sheila Hicks: Material Voices

Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto

Lygia Clark & Sheila Hicks

in ‘Making Space’, MoMA, New York

Sheila Hicks: Hop, Skip, Jump, and Fly: Escape From Gravity

The High Line, New York

Sheila Hicks Honoured with Arts and Letters Award

The artist has been recognised for exceptional accomplishment in art

Sheila Hicks: Thread, Trees, River

Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna

Sheila Hicks

in ‘La vie des tables’, Le Crédac, Ivry-sur-Seine

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Taking a Thread for a Walk’, MoMA, New York

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Surrounds: 11 Installations’, MoMA, New York

Sheila Hicks

in ‘In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair’, Art Institute of Chicago

Sheila Hicks: Reencuentro

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Chile

Sheila Hicks & Lenore Tawney

in ‘Weaving Beyond the Bauhaus’, The Art Institute of Chicago

Sheila Hicks: Secret Structures, Looming Presence

Dallas Museum of Art

Sheila Hicks Receives Honorary Degree from Yale

Hicks completed both her undergraduate and graduate studies at the university

Sheila Hicks: Seize, Weave Space

Nasher Sculpture Center, Texas

Sheila Hicks: Campo Abierto (Open Field)

The Bass, Miami

Sheila Hicks

in ‘New Materialism’, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm

Sheila Hicks: Sens Dessus Dessous

Château de Chaumont, Chaumont-sur-Loire, France

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Entangled in the Everyday’, ICA, Boston

Sheila Hicks: Lignes de Vie / Life Lines

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Sheila Hicks: Free Threads

Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico

Sheila Hicks

in ‘Voyage d’hiver’, Palace of Versailles, Paris

Sheila Hicks & Lenore Tawney

in ‘Beyond Craft’, Tate Modern, London

Video

Sheila Hicks at 57th Venice Biennale

Sheila Hicks: Begin With Thread