Sarah Morris exhibition Mechanical Ballet opens the Fernand Léger National Museums
2012-2013 programme, which aims to highlight the relationship between painting and architecture.
Born in 1967 and known worldwide, the American artist lives between New York and London. In line with the aesthetic approach favoured by Fernand Léger, the roots of Sarah Morris multidisciplinary work are to be found in modern-day urban reality. Leading a double life as a painter and film-maker since the late 1990s, she has carried on a visual and psychological exploration of our city environment. Her films such as Midtown [New York] in 1998, AM/PM [Las Vegas] in 1999, Capital [Washington D.C.] in 2000, Miami in 2002, Los Angeles in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and Chicago in 2011, are produced alongside pictorial cycles of a high formal and semiotic content. Taken from the heart of these bustling cities, Sarah Morris projected images are fragmented by zoom, travelling shot and low-angle effects. They are made even more effective by a sound track written by Liam Gillick.
The gloss-painted post-Pop surfaces of the artists invariably square-shaped paintings invite us to stop and reflect. They break up architectural facades into multi-coloured grids and turn everyday objects into graphic signs. In addition to Midtown, Dulles and Pools, the exhibition includes the more recent Clips, Knots and John Hancock series, which enlarge icons from our offices to the point of quasi-abstraction, like an echo of the famous Mona Lisa with the Keys (1930) which is kept in the National Museum collections in Biot.
Sarah Morris uses a matrix built up from a wide range of sources such as politics, architecture, sociology and economics to look below the surface of the visual signs and examine the codes that structure the perception of our era. In choosing to evoke Fernand Légers experimental film (Le Ballet mécanique, 1924) in the title of her exhibition, she also pays tribute to the French painter whose conceptual realism she pursues.