Sue Fuller American, 1914-2006

Sue Fuller was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where her father Samuel Fuller was a construction engineer in the “City of Bridges.” Her creative prowess was such that her high school art teacher, Kathryn Cherry (1860-1931), invited Fuller to spend the several summers with her in Gloucester, Massachusetts—where she summered—and to study at the Thurn School of Art, a short-lived art school operated by Ernst Thurn (1889-1971). Fuller and Thurn stayed in touch, even after she entered college at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, and he invited her to attend classes with Hans Hofmann in the summer of 1934. Immediately upon graduating from college in 1936, Fuller pursued graduate studies in fine art at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Coursework with her favorite Columbia professor, the printmaker Arthur R. Young (1920-1990), enabled Fuller to build a solid familiarity with several printmaking techniques. In June 1937, Fuller departed for Europe for the summer months with friends from graduate school, touring the continent extensively. One notable highlight was seeing the modern art on display at the Nazi’s “Degenerate Art” show held in Munich. After a brief stint teaching back at her alma mater, Fuller moved back to New York City where she continued making paintings and watercolors in a representational style, while also working in a variety of jobs as a commercial artist, typesetter, department store window display designer, and jewelry designer.

Looking for someone to teach her how to engrave on metal jewelry, Fuller found her way in 1943 to Stanley William Hayter at the New School. Instantly inspired by Atelier 17’s fertile, avant-garde atmosphere, she dropped the query about jewelry design and became enmeshed in the studio’s mission to research new forms of creative expression using the graphic arts. She remained affiliated with the studio for approximately two years. Her prints from this period fall roughly into two categories: images created by stretching premade lace and fabrics into positions, such as Cock, and second, prints made by weaving and knotting string and other found fiber objects to become original textiles, such as Lancelot and Guinevere. The second type of soft ground etching became instrumental to Fuller’s exploration of the artistic possibilities of textiles with the three-dimensional string-wrapped pieces that she made from the mid-1940s onward. She was the recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Fellowship (1948) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1949), during which time she developed her work on these string compositions. Fuller completed a number of commissioned installations of her string compositions, most notably at the McNay Art Museum and the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City.


We thank Christina Weyl for this biographical information.