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Pierre Huyghe: The Artist as Director Ocula Conversation Pierre Huyghe: The Artist as Director

Pierre Huyghe is a producer of spectacular and memorable enigmas, with works that function more like mirages than as objects. Abyssal Plain (2015–ongoing), his contribution to the 2015 Istanbul Biennial, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, was installed on the seabed of the Marmara Sea, some 20 metres below the surface of the water and close to...

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MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern Ocula Report MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern 29 Nov 2019 : Mohammad Salemy for Ocula

In the early decades of its existence, New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), founded in 1929, transformed from a philanthropic project modestly housed in a few rooms of the Heckscher Building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, to an alleged operating node in the United States' cultural struggle during the cold war, and one of the...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Annette Messager

b. 1943, France

Drawing from the everyday, memory, and fairytales, Annette Messager creates dark yet humorous assemblages and installations that interrogate diverse aspects of women's lives, from their role in society to childhood play, and the human body.

After she studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (1962–1966), Messager was affected by the student and worker riots of May 1968 and the rise of the feminist movement. As the traditional hierarchical and autocratic codes of French society disintegrated, she found that art was now to be encountered in the ordinary, non-institutional spaces of life.

Annette Messager's works from the 1970s often incorporate material from mass-circulated media to examine the roles and representation of women. The 81 images in Voluntary Torture (1972), taken from fashion magazines, reveal close-ups of women's faces or bodies while receiving various 'tortures', as Messager dubbed them, to meet the standard conventions of feminine beauty. In My Collection of Proverbs (1974), the artist stitched misogynistic phrases onto pieces of cloth, revealing their ludicrousness and employing embroidery—then commonly overlooked as women's work—to create works of art.

In the 1980s, Annette Messager began to explore the human body in her installations, drawing inspiration from her experiences and both historical and contemporary media. Her 'Mes Trophées' (My Trophies) series (1986–1988) consists of highly contrasted black-and-white photographs, many depicting hands and feet, over which the artist painted illustrations and symbols reminiscent of medieval manuscripts, children's books, and tattoos. 'My Vows' (1988–1991) was a wall installation in the form of a cluster of small monochrome photographs of assorted body parts suspended from the wall by strings.

While continuing to engage with the human body in the 1990s, Messager introduced stuffed figures into her installations. Animal toys were trapped tightly between piles of books in Fables and Tables (1991), while woollen sculptures in the shape of internal organs were hung from the ceiling in Penetration (1992–1994). Such soft sculptures gradually replaced the taxidermy animals Messager had used since the 1970s, notably in her 'Boarders at Rest' series (1971–1972), for which she created tableaux with stuffed sparrows.

Many of Messager's later works feature kinetic elements and a sense of the ominous, as if plucked out of dark fairytales. Representing France at the 51st Venice Biennale, the artist created Casino (2005): a room-scale installation inspired by the tales of Pinocchio. Swathes of blood-red fabric evocatively poured through the room while puppet heads turned and spun; the work was awarded that year's Golden Lion for best national pavilion. In Sans Légende—Untitled (2011–2012), small objects wrapped in black foil fill the floor as three inflatable spheres move up and down. A projection of a clock on the wall suggests a world facing impending doom—an allusion to real-life conflicts.

Messager held her first American retrospective exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1995. Recent notable solo exhibitions include Annette Messager—Alberto Giacometti, Nos Chambres, Giacometti Foundation, Paris, 2018; Annette Messager: Dessus Dessous, Musée des Beaux Arts and Cité de la dentelle et de la mode, Calais, 2015; and Annette Messager: Motion/Emotion, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2014. In 2016, Messager was awarded the Praemium Imperiale international arts award for sculpture by the Japan Art Association.

Annette Messager lives and works in the Malakoff district of Paris.

Biography by Ocula | 2019
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Featured Artworks

Emotion by Annette Messager contemporary artwork
Annette MessagerEmotion, 2017 Metal wire, nets, fabric, soft toys
150 x 205 x 15 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
Sleeping Heart by Annette Messager contemporary artwork
Annette MessagerSleeping Heart, 2017 Duvet, mixed media, acrylic paint, string
125 x 85 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
Sleeping Deep Red by Annette Messager contemporary artwork
Annette MessagerSleeping Deep Red, 2017–2018 Duvet, mixed media, black acrylic paint, string
170 x 153 x 20 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
Sleeping Purple Passion by Annette Messager contemporary artwork
Annette MessagerSleeping Purple Passion, 2018 Duvets, mixed media, black acrylic paint, string
220 x 105 x 40 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
L'Infini by Annette Messager contemporary artwork
Annette MessagerL'Infini, 2018 Gloves, coloured pencils
195 x 95 x 15 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery
Desir by Annette Messager contemporary artwork
Annette MessagerDesir, 2017 Various materials
75 x 120 x 12 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Annette Messager, Sleeping Songs at Galerie Marian Goodman, Paris
Closed
24 May–19 July 2019 Annette Messager Sleeping Songs Galerie Marian Goodman, Paris

Represented By

In Related Press

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Bordeaux's Château Mouton-Rothschild has never shied away from bold, even provocative choices for its annual art labels, but the 2017, featuring an illustration by French artist Annette Messager may be the first in decades to raise eyebrows at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), America's beloved authority on alcoholic beverage...

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Annette Messager MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY | PARIS Related Press Annette Messager MARIAN GOODMAN GALLERY | PARIS Artforum : 19 July 2019

Soft, colorful, and haunting, Annette Messager's latest sculptures are made from sleeping bags, puffer jackets, and quilts. Collectively titled "Sleeping Songs," 2017–19, these mostly wall-mounted works have been folded, pinned, draped, and sewn in ways that suggest various anatomical forms—including many whose central droopy cowled...

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A Wily French Artist Refreshes and Reinvigorates Giacometti Related Press A Wily French Artist Refreshes and Reinvigorates Giacometti Hyperallergic : 17 December 2018

PARIS — Desolate by design, the spindly sculptures and plagued portraits created by Alberto Giacometti last century receive a refreshing reinvigoration by Annette Messager in her delightfully dialectical two-person show titled Our Rooms.

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From scissors to snails, venture into the weirdly wonderful world of Annette Messager Related Press From scissors to snails, venture into the weirdly wonderful world of Annette Messager Wallpaper* : 25 April 2017

Contemporary art seems to find itself in a constant battle between the logical and the illogical, the possible and the impossible, the visible and the invisible. Is it better to be understood, or to understand something about the world? Do we have to explain everything? Should we even try?

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