ELLE, AT THE POMPIDOU

I might (not because I get in for free) even go to this show for a third time before I go home. The entire 4th level has been devoted to an exhibition by women artists in their collection. It is also one of the most thoughtfully put-together shows. It was only the second time around that I began to read all the introductory pieces to every room, each one devoted to another aspect of art-making. It is a large exhibit, and I will only mention the artists that interested me.

The show starts off, as you enter, with a large piece by Rachel Whiteread, called, “Muses against the Museum” witch, like her other pieces, is the inside/outside of a room in a museum, not a room you can hang a painting in. Then we turn and look straight at two sculptures against the wall by Nicci de Saint Phalle. It is called “Tir” (Shooting), and the catalog also uses this piece to introduce the exhibition by saying; “Ready, Aim, Fire”. The museum aims to mark the emergence in the 1960’s of a certain type of artist who, like de Saint Phalle, was committed, emancipated and uninhibited. This work seems to be playful at first glance, but then one starts to think about her concerns with social and political issues – the male domination of the art world in the 60’s (especially with abstract expressionism, which was thought to be a very “male” thing) and the way women had been portrayed.

The room dedicated to Lucy Lippard’s (1966) article in Art International, and the accompanying show in the Fischbach gallery in New York, is called “Eccentric Abstraction”. Here we see works by my favorite, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse (who died of a brain tumor in her early thirties, but left many wonderful works). These works accentuate the “deviate”, “different” and “abstract” visual and tactile way in which women tackled the new materials and the strategies they use.

In the entrance to the space dedicated too “A Room of Ones Own” is the quote by Virginia Woolff from her essay (1929) where she examines the material circumstances that limited woman’s ability to write (make art). Women had to re-invent themselves, reinvent their “mental furniture”. It helped if they had “50 pound and a room of ones own”.
I took a photo of Jenny Holzer’s poster-wall, it is really in-your-face stuff, here goes:
repressing sex urges is so bad; poison dams up inside and then it must come out; when sex is held back too long it comes out fast and wild; It can do a lot of harm; Innocent people get shot or cut up by confused sex urges ……. there’s lots more!

I have to end with this excerpt by Simone de Beauvoir, from her book “The Second Sex” (1949); “One is not born a woman, one becomes one. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female presents in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature, intermediate between male and eunuch, which is described as feminine”.

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