Wherein I review elles : pompidou at the Seattle Art Museum…
On Thursday night I had the complete good fortune to attend a social media press party at the Seattle Art Museum, including wine, snacks and a guided tour of this amazing show. As “press” we were able to take photographs of the works, and were given a press packet.
My review in a nut shell: if you are in or around Seattle from now until January 13 next year, don’t miss this show. I’m already planning on going back, with my daughter and her friends in tow. It is absolutely fantastic .
The tour started out with women artists of the early twentieth century. It was interesting to hear how women artists struggled to make their artistic mark and how early art history textbooks supported them by not including any female artists.
Early on in the show, the work and influence of the Guerilla Girls is emphasized and many of their posters are on display. I like them. I need to get involved with this group!
As the art became more feminist, and as the docent pointed out, women started to portray real women rather than women as objects, our docent became, well, less-feminist in her views. Pointing out real women as “ugly”, their surroundings as messy or dirty or ugly – perhaps she said this with the best of intentions but the contrast between how she felt about classical female beauty and “real” women was clear. Personally, I felt that when real women were portrayed their true beauty shone through, rather than a surface beauty.
My favorite pieces were both by French artist Annette Messager. The docent, not surprisingly, walked right by both of these (not pretty enough?) Les Pensionnaires consisted of three glass cases containing taxidermy birds or bundles of feathers, some of them wearing little knitted sweaters or blankets. They reminded me of my friend Terra’s bug ceremony photographs.
Her second piece, Les Piques was disturbing in the best way. She had placed a variety of objects, photographs and drawings on pikes, as you would place heads. There was so much to see and take in but you also wanted to look away.
We did not have a chance to view elles : sam, “Nine interrelated shows and installations in the Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries constitute Elles: SAM and highlight some of the connections and breaks in artistic developments during the last 50 years.” Like I said, I’m going back.
And to answer my question in my previous post, I was interested to read a quote from Camille Morineau, Chief Curator of Elles at the Centre Pompidou, “… the goal is to show that representation of women versus men is, ultimately, no longer important.”