'Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris' features painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video and installation by forward-thinking women artists: Frida Kahlo, Diane Arbus, Louise Bourgeois, Gina Pane, Tania Bruguera and many more. 'Elles: SAM - Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists' is a series of focused exhibitions transforming SAM's galleries and celebrating the accomplishments of approximately 30 female artists. On view Georgia O'Keeffe, Imogen Cunningham, Yayoi Kusama...
SEATTLE ART MUSEUM PRESENTS ELLES: WOMEN ARTISTS FROM THE CENTRE POMPIDOU, PARIS
October 11, 2012 – January 13, 2013
SAM is the only U.S. venue for this groundbreaking exhibition that tells a story of modern and contemporary art solely through the work of women artists.
SEATTLE– August 1, 2012- This fall the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) 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 Europe’s 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 will challenge 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 women’s 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 women’s 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 exhibition’s 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 women’s 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 women’s 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 will amplify the impact of this landmark exhibition through a major reinstallation of its own collections of modern and contemporary art. From October 11, 2012 through February 7, 2013, a series of focused exhibitions will transform SAM’s galleries, celebrating the accomplishments of approximately 30 female artists. Works on view will include 1920s paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and photographs by Imogen Cunningham, a dramatic installation of Yayoi Kusama’s mixed media works, Jenny Holzer’s Inflammatory Essays, a solo show of Seattle-based artist Victoria Haven and much more. These exhibitions will be drawn from SAM’s own collection, as well as from key private collections from throughout the region and across the country.
Extending to the museum’s two other locations, Sandra Cinto’s 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 Women’s Paintings from the Land of Sita will be featured at the Seattle Asian Art Museum throughout the fall and winter.
Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris is organized by the Seattle Art Museum and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. The Seattle presentation of this exhibition is made possible with critical funding provided by SAM’s Fund for Special Exhibitions. Exhibition sponsors are The Boeing Company, Microsoft, The Seattle Art Museum Supporters (SAMS) and U.S. Bank. Supporting Sponsors are The Brummel-Keaton Family Fund and Melbourne Tower. Media Sponsors are King 5 Television and The Seattle Times. Official Hotel Sponsor is Four Season Hotel Seattle.
SAM TRANSFORMS ITS OWN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY GALLERIES TO FEATURE ONLY THE WORK OF WOMEN ARTISTS
Elles: SAM – Singular Works by Seminal Women Artists
October 11, 2012 – February 7, 2013
Works from SAM’s collection and notable private collections complement the historic exhibition Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris
SEATTLE, SEPTEMBER 26, 2012 – This fall and winter, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is presenting Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris, a groundbreaking exhibition from one of the world’s most renowned collections of modern and contemporary art. This international survey of painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video, and installation by pioneering women artists includes more than 130 works of art made by 75 artists from 1907 to 2007.
To amplify and enhance Elles, SAM is transforming its modern and contemporary galleries on the third floor to highlight the accomplishments of women artists whose work is not explored in greater depth in the exhibition from the Centre Pompidou. With works in a broad range of media from the 1920s through today, Elles:SAM is comprised of installations that include works from SAM’s own collection as well as loans from private lenders and public institutions throughout the region and across the country. Together, they contribute to the complex story of the role women have played throughout the history of 20th and 21st century art.
MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART
During Elles:SAM, all of the museum’s modern and contemporary art galleries will be reinstalled with work by only women artists. This is the first time a major re-installation has taken place since the expansion opened in 2007. A combination of solo and thematic exhibitions and installations intersect and deepen the conversation initiated by Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Beginning with works form the 1950s and 1960s, the exhibition includes works by pioneering women artists who made major contributions in the arena of painting during and long after the Abstract Expressionist wave had subsided. Often overshadowed by their male peers during the hayday of the abstract painterly movement, the reputation of Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, and Joan Mitchell has soared in recent decades. Frankenthaler’s luminous, color-stained canvases were influential to numerous other artists of her generation, while Mitchell developed an increasingly bold abstract, gestural language, and Krasner’s mature paintings began to reintroduce figurative elements at a time when abstraction was still the critical favorite. The installation is entitled “Modern Masters,” a variation on the “Old Master” theme that was a common tribute to celebrate accomplished male artists at mid-century. In this instance the emphatic, albeit tongue-in-cheek designation, is bestowed upon three towering female painters. While several of the paintings on view in this installation come from within SAM’s permanent collection, most are on loan to the museum from private collections in the Seattle area.
Elles:SAM advances the artistic conversation to subsequent decades with works by artists who demonstrate that counter to mainstream art historical writings the conversation did not move swiftly from figuration to abstraction at mid-century. Especially the work of experimental women artists demonstrate the push and pull between abstraction and figuration in the 1950s and ‘60s, which inspired subsequent generations. Paintings from SAM’s collection by Agnes Martin and Joe Baer, for example, reflect a minimalist aesthetic that test viewers’ perception with their subtle variations. At the same time, counterproposals that reference objects or the body emerge from the works of Eva Hesse, Elizabeth Murray, Louise Bourgeois and others. A younger generation of artists including Ellen Gallagher and Ghada Amer borrow liberally from the stockpile of abstract styles to explore issues of race and sexuality.
Yayoi Kusama: A Total Vision
The first-ever Seattle museum exhibition of the radical and mesmerizing works by art-world superstar Yayoi Kusama is also part of Elles:SAM. In the 1950s Kusama began creating works that reveal her own startling, visual universe fueled in part by her lifelong struggle with obsessive neurosis and hallucinations.
Crowded with repetitive patterns of nets, dots and flowers the artist’s two-dimensional works later grew to include installations that seem to swallow the viewer in her pulsating world, sculptures covered with household objects and oddly shaped protrusions that are in equal measure exuberant and unsettling. Elles:SAM brings together a group of drawings, paintings and sculptures from key moments in Yayoi Kusama’s career, demonstrating the breath of her unique contributions. The installation will be on view in SAM’s dramatic, double-height gallery.
In addition, several installations in Elles:SAM highlight more recent developments. Seattle-based artist Victoria Haven is represented with an installation of all new sculptures and drawings. Her recent work uses ephemeral signs and objects as starting points for exploration. Mapping personal experience through art, the topography of the Pacific Northwest is surfaces in surprising ways- and a piece of music ephemera--a list of songs from a mixed tape serves as the inspiration for a portable monument.
Informed by the strategies of Conceptual art, Jenny Holzer has recreated for Elles:SAM her celebrated poster series Inflammatory Essays. Steered by the artist’s intense engagement with feminism and the politics of power and power relationships, the posters draw on the words of intellectuals, politicians and ideologues from the left and the right, including Trotsky, Hitler, Mao, Lenin and Emma Goldstein. Inflammatory statements by these individuals and others are presented, un-credited, as text against brightly-colored backgrounds, challenging viewers to take a position in opposition or in alignment with the statements. . A second version of the poster series will be installed outside the museum on Paper Hammer, at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Union Street.
Since the 1970s, Adrian Piper’s artistic practice has centered on performance and video works. She brings the rigor and structure of conceptual work to subjects that evoke strong emotional reactions. Barricaded into a corner of the gallery by an overturned table, Cornered addresses the subtleties of racial discrimination, challenging the comfort or discomfort of Caucasian viewers when presented with questions and reflections on the subject of race.
Video art has been an important part of the history of art in the last 50 years and Elles:SAM includes a gallery that will present a variety of single-channel videos by women artists. Changing on a monthly basis, these videos will be presented in roughly chronological order and will include works by Yayoi Kusama, Dara Birnbaum, Laurie Anderson, Tracy and the Plastics, Moyra Davey and Tracey Rose.
Altered variants of found shapes like the black double diamond that entices accomplished athletes on ski slopes provide a way of connecting the space of the gallery to distant locations.
In the 1920s, Georgia O’Keeffe was an anomaly. Not only was she a woman creating bold, original work in a field dominated by male artists, but also she was an artist painting abstract forms that were construed by critics as being overtly feminine, sensual and even sexual. Elles:SAM includes two large canvases by O’Keeffe, on loan to the museum from private collections. Black, White and Blue from 1930 and Cow' Skull on Red from 1931/36 display a range in the artist’s work. The purely abstract composition of Black, White and Blue is imbued with subtle shading and gradations of a nearly monochromatic color scheme that give its forms movement and volume, while the representational Cow’s Skull is dead and still, pushed out to the front of the picture plane by its flat, red background. The O’Keeffe paintings are on view alongside several photographs by Imogen Cunningham from within SAM’s own collection. Similar to O’Keeffe, Cunningham often looked to nature for her subject matter, building compositions that defied conventional approaches. In many of her works, for example, she has isolated extremely close-up images of natural forms against neutral backgrounds, resulting in photographs that appear more abstract than representational. Other contemporaries of O’Keeffe and Cunningham such as Ella McBride, Margaret Bourke-White and Lola Alvarez Bravo, whose works are also on view, similarly sought to defy conventional representation, finding new means of portraying their subject matter. The choices they made reflected their personalities. Rather than approaching art as mere descriptions, they overtly asserted their own, often bold perspectives in compositions that transform the viewer’s perception of otherwise familiar objects. Through the unique treatment of their subject matter, each expressed them herself, her intellect and her emotions in unmistakable ways.
By later in the 1930s, the American Abstract Artist Group began to exhibit more non-objective works of art in New York. Although initially under the influence of new abstract art coming out of Europe, this group sought recognition as working in a distinctly American mode. It was this goal that drove the group’s female members, rather than any quest for recognition as equal to their male counterparts. Amidst a political climate that saw social realism as the only true and relevant American style, abstraction was viewed as indigenous only to Europe and even, at times, “un- American.” Among the diverse women artists who participated in the founding of the American Abstract Artists group were Russian émigré Esphyr Slobodkina; Alice Trumbull Mason, descendant of the venerable 18th-19th century painter John Trumbull; and New York aristocrat Suzy Frelinghuysen. Works by each of these artists are on view in Elles:SAM, along with paintings by later member Charmion von Wiegand and Oregon-based artist Maud Irvine Kerns, a devotee of Wassily Kandinsky who found her outlet at New Yorks’ new Museum of Non-Objective Painting.
OTHER SEATTLE ART MUSEUM LOCATIONS
Extending to the museum’s two other locations, Sandra Cinto’s site-specific installation Encontro das Águas (Encounter of Waters) is on view at the Olympic Sculpture Park through October 2013, and several exhibitions, including Tooba, a video installation by Iranian-American Shirin Neshat; Where Have they Been? Two Overlooked Chinese Female Artists; and Women’s Paintings from the Land of Sita will be featured at the Seattle Asian Art Museum throughout the fall and winter. The Museum’s rental sales gallery will feature the exhibition Elles@SAMGallery with women artists from the northwest, including Deborah Bell, Jaq Chartier, Claire Cowie, Marita Dingus, Stacy Rozich, Yuri Kinoshita, Molly Landreth and more. Information about all exhibitions and events produced in conjunction with Elles is available on the museum’s website at www.seattleartmuseum.org/elles .
Image: Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk, performance, still, 1989. Courtesy the Artist. © Andrea Fraser, Photo: Kelly & Massa Photography.
CONTACT: Cara Egan, Seattle Art Museum P.R., 206-748-9285 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Art Museum Downtown
1300 First Avenue - Seattle, WA 98101-2003
Wednesday–Sunday: 10 am–5 pm
Thursday & Friday: 10 am–9 pm
Monday & Tuesday: closed
October 11, 2012–January 13, 2013
Tuesday–Sunday: 10 am–5 pm
Thursday & Friday: 10 am–9 pm
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