So here’s a bit of Swiss trivia every expat should know – there is only one woman featured on the current set of Swiss bank notes. And that is Sophie Taeuber Arp – featured on the 50CHF note - one of the foremost figures of the rebellious Dada art movement in the early 20th century.
She is featured on today’s Google Doodle in the style of her geometric artwork to celebrate what would have been her 127th birthday.
Born in Davos, Switzerland in 1889, she was one of the founders of the Dada art movement which began after World War One as a reaction to the millions that died as a result of the war. Dadism used materials in an abstract way, often forming experimental composition using geometric shapes.
Sophie’s skills covered painting, designing, weaving, puppetry and dancing. She fought for her style of art to be considered as fine art, and as a result became one of the 20th Century’s most prominent female artists, bridging the gap between fine and applied arts.
Sophie began her art studies in Switzerland at the School of applied Arts in St Gallen between 1906 and 1910, before moving to Munich, Germany to the workshop of Wilhelm von Debschits where she spent a year at the School of Arts and Crafts in Hamburg. She then attended the Laban School of Dance in Zurich in 1916 and spent that summer at the artist colony of Monte Verita in Ascona.
After marrying Jean Arp in 1922, who she met at an art exhibition at the Tanner Gallery, the pair created abstract work together.
Sophie’s day job was then teaching embroidery and weaving at the School of Applied Arts in Zurich, and by night she went in disguise to Dada soirées to protect her identity and teaching job.
The pair moved to France in 1926 where she exhibited her work, but later escaped Nazi occupation and returned to Zurich in 1942. She died a year later after carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty stove.