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'Women in Abstraction' (Elles font Abstraction) featuring 110 female artists, opens at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris

Centre Pompidou in Paris joins other museums in France that are now open to visitors under strict supervision of booking and sanitary measures including wearing face masks


     

Scheduled to run until August 23, 2021 at the reopened Centre Pompidou in Paris, the exhibition offers a new take on the history of abstraction, from its origins to the 1980s, highlighting the female artists as burgeoning creators of modernism in their own right, after being largely ignored by art historians.


22 Mai 2021 - 22:10

Poster of the show 'Women in Abstraction' Centre Pompidou Paris, 2021 taken from photo of Lynda Benglis, published in Life(1970)©Henry Groskinsky and Liga Inc. courtesy of Centre Pompidou Paris
Poster of the show 'Women in Abstraction' Centre Pompidou Paris, 2021 taken from photo of Lynda Benglis, published in Life(1970)©Henry Groskinsky and Liga Inc. courtesy of Centre Pompidou Paris

Revisiting the history of Abstraction

Chief curator Christine Macel and Karolina Lewandowska, curator for photography at Centre Pompidou, point out the decisive turning points that marked the history of Abstraction and question its aesthetic canons, going beyond the idea of a history of art conceived as a succession of purely pioneering practices.

The show begins with an unprecedented foray into the 19th century with the rediscovery of Georgiana Houghton’s work from the 1860s. Houghton (1814 -1884) pioneered drawing abstract works and complex watercolour paintings, which she declared to be spirit drawings guided by the presence of spirits, some of whom she believed were Renaissance artists and higher angelic beings. She was also a spiritualist medium.
 

Judy Chicago, 'Smoke bodies' from 'Women in smoke' 1972/2018, courtesy of Through the Flowers Archives, The Center for Art&Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art © Judy Chicago © ADAGP, Paris 2021
Judy Chicago, 'Smoke bodies' from 'Women in smoke' 1972/2018, courtesy of Through the Flowers Archives, The Center for Art&Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art © Judy Chicago © ADAGP, Paris 2021

Spotlights

The show then directs the spotlight, using mini-monographs, on key figures who have been neglected in Europe or deprived of recognition. The focus turns on the specific educational, social and institutional contexts that either surrounded and encouraged, or hindered the recognition of these women. Many of these women artists deliberately did not aspire to recognition. Some, like Sonia Delaunay-Terk adopted a non-gendered attitude and did not restrict her work to paintings, but widened her scope to fashion, theatre costumes and designs in general, while others like Judy Chicago, laid claim to a feminine art.

This female version of history naturally challenges the limitation of the study of abstraction to painting alone excluding those women who did not fit into the specific modernist approach. These women used spiritualist, ornamental or performative dimensions of abstraction in their approach to art. The perspective of these women also includes a global aspect that includes the modernist approach of those from Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, not to forget African-American artists whose multiple voices only emerged from the early 1970s.
 

Giannina Censi, Aerodanza 8: stanchezza di volo, 1931, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Roverta, Roverta © Santacoce
Giannina Censi, Aerodanza 8: stanchezza di volo, 1931, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Roverta, Roverta © Santacoce

The artists and the onward journey of the exhibition

In alphabetic order the 110 artists range from Magdalena Abakanowicz , Berenice Abbot, Vanessa Bell, Louise Bourgeois, Lucinda Childs, Irene Chou, Lotte Jacobi, Nasreen Mohamedi, Vera Molnar, Janet Sobel, Maria Helena Veira da Silva ending with Fahrelnissa Zeid born in Turkey but who resided in Jordan. Their specific contributions are established in the exhibition, whether pioneers or not, in this unique approach introducing a different take on the history of abstraction.
 
The show ‘Women in Abstraction’ will be presented at the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain from 22nd October to 27th February 2022 with the collaboration of curator Lekha Hilemann Waitoller.
 
The catalogue comprising 390 images, five essays, fifteen thematic focus topics and 112 texts, on 352 pages will be published by Editions du Centre Pompidou under the direction of the curators of the Paris show. The English version will be co-edited by Thames & Hudson and the Spanish and Basque versions will be co-edited by Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
 

Sophie Taeuber-Arp, composition Dada (Tête au plat), 1920 © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerditchian/dist. RMN-GP
Sophie Taeuber-Arp, composition Dada (Tête au plat), 1920 © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Georges Meguerditchian/dist. RMN-GP

Centre Georges Pompidou Paris

Place Georges Pompidou, 75004 Paris (75191 Paris Cedex 04)
Telephone
Métro : Hôtel de Ville, Rambuteau/RER Châtelet-Les-Halles
Opening times every day except Tuesdays from 11am to 9pm
Admission ranges from €14, reduced €11, free for those under 18
and various other groups
Online booking is mandatory : www.billeterie.centrepompidou.fr
(specific time slots apply to all visitors due to restriction of space
Visitors aged 11 and over must wear a mask)
 

'Women in Abstraction' (Elles font Abstraction) featuring 110 female artists, opens at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris



Kunang Helmi-Picard
Fatma Kunang Helmi was born in Yogjakarta, Indonesia. Education in Switzerland, Australia and... En savoir plus sur cet auteur



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