Gagosian is pleased to present Bustes de Femmes, a group exhibition focused on female portraiture to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the gallery’s central Paris location.
Spanning a breadth of stylistic and conceptual approaches, the paintings, sculptures, and photographs on view demonstrate how the female figure has been reimagined and reconfigured by modern and contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds and traditions. Expanding upon the theme and format of the gallery’s first booth at FIAC, in 2010, Bustes de Femmes will be presented in environments both real and virtual designed by India Mahdavi, an architect known for her vibrant interiors that combine free forms with unexpected bursts of colour. For this exhibition, Mahdavi will juxtapose each work on view with a fresh and joyful hue from her 2019 colour collection Flowers.
John Currin’s erotic and enigmatic depictions of women populate scenes suffused with tongue-in-cheek irony, rendered in luminous brushstrokes reminiscent of the old masters. Jeff Koons’s Gazing Ball (Rembrandt Lucretia) (2015) celebrates the appreciation of the achievements of others throughout human history. A hand-blown mirrored glass ball placed in front of a hand-painted re-creation of the seventeenth-century portrait transports present-day viewers into an illusory world inhabited by Rembrandt, his predecessors, and the titular ancient Roman heroine.
For the past four decades, Cindy Sherman has used herself as her exclusive model—inventing an endless stream of visual identities while acting as stylist, set designer, and producer—to create photographic tableaux that address the conceit of self-representation and probe societal perceptions of women throughout history. In Untitled #552 (2010–2012), Sherman, dressed in a bobbed wig and black dress with white gloves, scowls and poses with arms stiff at her sides. Harshly lit against a nocturnal treescape, her body dwarfs the scene behind her, inverting and feminizing the Romantic trope of nature overpowering the human.
Bringing together elements of religious iconography, advertising, and political propaganda from southern Africa and the United States, Meleko Mokgosi seeks to redress some of the ways in which Black subjects have become unattributed objects of empire and institution. In Mokgosi’s installation Objects of Desire 3 (2016–2020), small paintings of women modelling for Afrocentric beauty advertisements are juxtaposed with text panels discussing the classification of so-called 'primitive' art—a reference to the Museum of Modern Art’s controversial 1984–1985 exhibition "Primitivism" in Twentieth Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, in which historical African artworks were problematically framed as anonymous sources for early European modernism.
To make these works available to a wider international audience during this time of limited accessibility, Bustes de Femmes will include an online presentation that continues and extends the exhibition, and Mahdavi’s scenography as well. In a group of four paintings from Adriana Varejão’s 2015 series 'Kindred Spirits,' the artist superimposes modernist paintings over delicate monochrome renderings of her own face—a blending of personal and artistic identities from past and present. Also viewable online is Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture Reclining Figure: Umbilicus (1984). Throughout his career, the reclining female figure formed a central font of inspiration for Moore, whose biomorphic abstractions imbue the human body with both a corporeal solidity and a weightless dynamism.
On the occasion of this exhibition, Gagosian Quarterly will present a filmed conversation between Jeff Koons and art historian Diana Widmaier-Picasso.
Bustes de Femmes will include works by Richard Avedon, Balthus, Georg Baselitz, Huma Bhabha, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, John Currin, Roe Ethridge, Urs Fischer, Alberto Giacometti, Romuald Hazoumè, Jia Aili, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Adam McEwen, Joan Miro, Meleko Mokgosi, Henry Moore, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, Jenny Saville, Cindy Sherman, Spencer Sweeney, Cy Twombly, Adriana Varejão, and Tom Wesselmann, among others.
Press release courtesy Gagosian.