|ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History / Lissy Funk|
Lissy Funk (1909, April 30th until 2005, April 19th)
|Life and development of
the embroiderer Lissy Funk
Lissy Duessel was born in Berlin in 1909. Her Family had moved several times during her childhood. At the end of World War I they had lost their wealth and Lissy had to find a way to make a living. In Dresden she studied 4 years dance in Mary Wigmans experimental dance studio. But despite her talent she was not strong enough to pursue a career in dance. After some time her family settled in the Canton of Ticino in Italian speaking Switzerland. Lissy took weaving lessons near St.Gallen in 1929-30. But she prefered needle work and then started with needle and thread. A first result were her blue and white embroidered panels (122x45, 1937).
In 1933 she moved to Zürich and there she gave gymnastic lessons, she met the painter Adolf Funk and they were married in 1935.
Lissy passed away on April 19th, 2005.
|In 1938 she entered a
competition conducted by the city of Zürich to create an
object for a wall in the council chamber. Together with a
Swiss painter she was charged to create a hanging with
172 coat of arms (500 x 700 cm, 1939-45). She
also used the motif of floral and herbal plants
indigenous to Switzerland and also reminiscent the mille
fleurs tapestries of northern Europe in the 15th and 16th
century. When it was completed it measured 35 square
meters. It was installed when World War II came to an
In 1948 Lissy started to teach at the school for
Home Economics in Zürich.
|The evolution of
Lissys abstract style was slow and painful. By the
mid 1960 s she began to find her visual language. Pieces
from this period are the wish (168 x 250cm,
1967), and How shall I Receive You (245
x 265cm, 1966). Lissys study of christian art
and liturgy has provided her with a continuous and
clearly defined repertory of forms and colours.
Here the cross which becomes the pieces central axis, is comprised of a golden shaft of wheat, representing the Psalms; a line of white kernels, which refers to church songs; and a line of red, signifying religious songs that have not yet been composed. The shafts of flowering wheat to the right indicate the earthly dwellings of mankind, while those to the left are the heavenly dwellings of the prophets. The horizontal member of the cross, comprised of 12 white bars, symbolizes the apostles. The circle surrounding these forms stands for faith.
This piece speaks to us with a richness, a sence of celebration and porfound contentment. By this time Lissy Funk had become a significant contemporary artist.
detail of hanging in the
|Lissy now moved increasingly
toward abstraction. Abstraction allows her many more
options for more complex and involving images. Her work
seems charged with energy and rhythm, it is an evocative
image free from the limits that realistic appearances can
Her preoccupation with light and times of the day is another theme in Lissys work. Il Mattino (dawn) (160 x 61cm, 1978), la Mattinata (the morning song) (180 x 153cm, 1975) show the beginning of the day. Upright forms in blue and black suggest the transformation from night to day. La Giornata (185 x 200, 1980) features a dramatic maze of intersecting black lines. One senses the many interruptions and moods one experiences in a day. Morning and Evening Light (210 x ll5cm, 1987). shows the struggle between the foreboding darkness of night and the purity and promise of the early day. Here Lissy has achieved an incandescent and ethereal quality that one would never expect from needle and thread.
These pieces become all the more remarkable when one
realizes that they are entirely embroidered. They are all
embroidered wall hangings. Lissys controll over
needle and thread is extraordinary.
|the European and American
art scene by attending international exhibitions in
Switzerland. Another source has been the art and eye of
her husband Adolf Funk. their relationship and work have
been enriched by constant intellectual interchange, along
with great affection and concern for one another.
Important were Lissys participation in the International Tapestry Biennales in Lausanne, Switzerland of 1965, 1969 and 1977. Lissys work was also included 1986 in the exhibition of Gruppe 78, an association formed in 1978 by Swiss textile artists, all of them woman. In 1988 a Retrospective was held in the Art Institute of Chicago USA, in 1989 the same exhibition was shown in Krefeld Germany and in Zürich. 2 years ago some of her important works and a number of small-scale works were shown in Winterthur and in the Textile Museum in St. Gallen Switzerland.
Lissy began to produce small-scale works in 1976,
calling them Minis and Mini-minis. For the St.Gallen
exhibition she created a number of new ones. She can
reach a wider audience with these more affordable works,
but despite the smaller scale the creative procedure is
the same as in her bigger wall hangings:
|When confronted with her wall hangings we are struck by the intense or subtle colour palette, complex compositions and rich textures, that they are realized in thread is secondary. Her style, compositions and forms of execution are her own. She does not belong to a movement or school, she remains untouched by thsi age of instant creations and instant results. Her art cannot be measured by normal standards. She enchants us with her works by allowing us to partake of her innermost thoughts which help our innermost thoughts to unfold as well. Lissy Funks art builds on a feeling of deep spirituality, making her works very fascinating but also difficult. Her works must be approached meditatively. Through her art she opens up a world of vast dimensions.||These thoughts have been
taken from the catalogue of Lissy Funks
Retrospective in the Art Institute of Chicago in 1988
that is from the article of Christa C. Mayer Thurmann, Curator, Department of Textiles.
And from the foreword by Dr. C. Eggenberger, Chairman, Visual Arts Section of Pro Helvetia (Swiss Cultural Foundation).
|There is a video
from summer 2001 about Lissy Funks tapestry in the
cathedral of Schaffhausen, Switzerland. At the
occasion of the 50th anniversary of this work of art
Lissy Funk herself explains the origin of the hanging.
Lissy Funks development underwent at that time a major stylistic change. Using sharp lines, she created geometric compartments in which cubistic figures appear. At first glance, pieces resemble large pen-and-ink drawings filled with doodles.
In the years after 1976 Funk began to produce small-scale, calling them Minis. They provide the artist with relief from the stresses involved in producing her larger tapestries. Because the large hangings generally can be acquired by only a few individuals, she is able to reach a wider audience with these smaller, more affordable works.
And even at
ninty-two Lissy Funk remains active, her head spinning
with new ideas.
|home content||Last revised March 5, 2006||For further information contact Anne Wanner firstname.lastname@example.org|