This fall the Seattle Art Museum
presents Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris, an exhilarating survey of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video, and installation by forward-thinking women artists from one of Europes most extensive collections of modern and contemporary art. Elles, on view from October 11, 2012 through January 13, 2013, is an unforgettable visual experience that challenges visitors assumptions about art of the past century. More than 125 works of art made by 75 women artists from 1909 to 2007 reveal a history of 20th and 21st century art from a new and illuminating perspective.
Seattle is the only US venue for Elles, which includes key works by women artists from around the world including Sonia Delaunay, Frida Kahlo, Dora Maar, Diane Arbus, Marina Abramović , Louise Bourgeois, Atsuko Tanaka, Cindy Sherman, Sophie Calle, Gina Pane, Hannah Wilke, Nan Goldin, Tania Bruguera, and many more.
One of the most ambitious exhibitions of recent years, Elles pulses with energy, channeled frustration, and self-definition, resulting in a memorable visual and historic experience.
Other exhibitions specifically exploring female artists and feminism have been organized in recent years notably the 2007 exhibition Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, said Marisa C. Sánchez, Associate Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum. But Elles is distinctive in its broader historical scope. The art collection at the Centre Pompidou is uniquely rich, allowing for a survey of art made by women artists that few if any other museum collections would have the depth to organize.
Distilled from a highly acclaimed long-term exhibition, elles@centrepompidou, that began in May 2009 and filled the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Elles places womens art at the core of the development of 20th-21st century art. When on view in France, the massive exhibition took over the Pompidou galleries for nearly two years, completely changing the otherwise male-dominated discourse about the history of art in a culture in which there has historically been less focus on feminism and womens issues in art. Now for the first time in the US, this exhibition adds to a developing conversation about the role and influence of women in modern and contemporary art, through works from one of the largest and most respected collections of modern and contemporary art in the world. The more than 125 works on view in Elles have never travelled together as a collection, and the exhibitions specific focus on female artists brings attention to major works that until now have not been on continual view to the public.
In keeping with its presentation at the Centre Pompidou, Elles is installed thematically and loosely chronologically. The exhibition begins with sections chronicling womens art from the first half of the 20th-century including The Early Avant Garde, Get Your Woman On, Surrealism, Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, Bauhaus and Paris/New York. These spotlight women artists significant contributions to the developing language of Modernism, from abstraction to explorations of identity to pushing the boundaries of media such as photography and more. In addition, these sections introduce ideas of identity and images of the female figure that would redefine what it was to be a woman in twentieth century times.
Moving into the Post World War II period, Eccentric Abstraction includes work by Abstract-Expressionist Joan Mitchell along with more figurative and organic abstract sculptures by artists including Lygia Clark, Louise Nevelson and Louise Bourgeois to name a few. Feminism and Critics of Power, The Activist Body, Muses Against the Museum and Figures of Speech bring to the fore the dramatic artistic experimentation from performance and activist art, to guerilla and conceptual work and more that began in the 1960s and 1970s and continued to be a part of womens art throughout the 20th century and beyond. The Body is dominated by many now-iconic videos and photographs that explore representations of the body, especially the stereotypes and contradictions inherent in the cliché of ideal beauty fashioned by the media, film industry and advertising culture. Contemporary artists, including Cindy Sherman, Marina Abramović, Lorna Simpson, and others have probed the systems through which beauty is reinforced and fabricated. Elles closes with Narrations, bringing together the probing and intimate works of contemporary artists, such as Annette Messager, Mona Hatoum, Nan Goldin, to name a few, that reject set genres and often combine sound, images and unorthodox materials to make statements about love, loss, relationships, world events, autobiography, and more.
SAM amplifies the impact of this landmark exhibition through a major re-installation of its own collections of modern and contemporary art. From October 11, 2012 through February 7, 2013, a series of focused exhibitions transform SAMs galleries, celebrating the accomplishments of approximately 30 female artists. Works on view include 1920s paintings by Georgia OKeeffe and photographs by Imogen Cunningham, a dramatic installation of Yayoi Kusamas mixed media works, Jenny Holzers Inflammatory Essays, a solo show of Seattle-based artist Victoria Haven and much more. These exhibitions have been drawn from SAMs own collection, as well as from key private collections from throughout the region and across the country.
Extending to the museums two other locations, Sandra Cintos site-specific installation Encontro das Águas (Encounter of Waters) is on view at the Olympic Sculpture Park through April 14, 2013, and several exhibitions, including Tooba, a video installation by Iranian-American Shirin Neshat; Where Have they Been? Two Overlooked Chinese Female Artists; and Womens Paintings from the Land of Sita are featured at the Seattle Asian Art Museum throughout the fall and winter.