Marian Goodman Gallery New York is delighted to feature a solo presentation by Annette Messager for Frieze New York at The Shed from May 5-9. On view will be two new installations and a recent series of drawings.
Annette Messager has been a pioneering force in contemporary art in Europe and beyond from the 1970s to the present. Her work is recognized for its heterogeneity of form and subject matter, drawing on the personal and the fictional, the social and universal. Utilizing principles of assemblage, collection and theatrical display, her diverse media have included construction, documents, language, objects, taxidermy, drawings, photographs, fabric, embroidery, image collections, albums, painting and sculpture. Her expansive installations transform space and provide immersive experiences to the viewer. Deeply interested in questions of genre, Messager has explored fairy tales, mythology, and doppelgängers throughout her œuvre. Often using reminiscence and memory as a vehicle for inspiration, Messager’s wide range of hybrid forms has an affinity with traditions as varied as the romantic, the grotesque, the absurd, and the phantasmagoric.
Messager will present Petite Babylone, 2019, a floor installation made up of hundreds of abstract shapes and bodily forms in black wrap intermingled with stuffed animals, with shadows and light shifting along the wall. Messager’s calcinated Babylon is an apocalyptic realm, a landscape in the aftermath of a seemingly devastating event. In this ‘fin du monde’ scenario, living forms are destroyed, petrified, carbonized, and attacked by invading animals – a duck, a squirrel, a rabbit, a pigeon, a kitten, a raccoon, a lizard, a chicken, a bird. Hands, fingers emerge from certain structures, forming shadows that spin and shift on the wall.
At the edge of civilization, devoid of human presence, fossilized structures and spectral shadows reign. Messager conjures a zone suggesting both real events, such as the tsunami in Fukushima, Japan, 2011, and reminiscent of the topography of darkness explored in recent works. Whether a phantasm, a subterranean world, or a universal state of mind, these menacing and satiric forms have been present in installations such as Continents Noir, 2010, or La Chambre des légendes, 2019, recently shown at the Institut Giacometti, Paris.
En même temps, 2021, an installation of drawings and petites effigies, is inspired in part by art history – drawing on, as Messager says, Constructivism and Constantin Brâncusi to Oskar Schlemmer and Alberto Giacometti. The opacity and uniformity of these small figures indicate parity between the forty-some tiny sculptures which are ‘hieratic and upright and represent us humans, and seem to be observing us.’ In dialogue with these small figures, Messager integrates a number of organic, elongated drawings which bring the inside outside, making the unseen seen. The drawings ‘play on our bodies, our organs, our fantasies; they seep in and circulate, seeming to disrupt the dignity of these little effigies, at the same time.’
The petites effigies, the tiny figures that Messager pins and suspends, and personifies and memorializes in her wall installations, represent hybrid forms that recall childhood toys or fetish objects. Often arranged in the style of entomological collections, placed at systematic intervals along a wall, they have been exhibited in diverse historical contexts over the years.
A selection of drawings from 2016–2020 imagines the female body as an otherworldly landscape, populated by saturnine orbs, moonscapes, and floating islands of female forms. Messager sees her drawings as close to poetry, both joyous and tragic. They are musings, doublings, a play on words, the imaginings of an itinerant wanderer — a vagabond en route from the celestial to the clandestine. A black heart corset mingles with dancing stars and comets. Hybrid couplings drift in space. A black breast silhouette bursts with floral life. Ghoulish memento mori lurk behind laptops and doorways. A triptych becomes a danse macabre of insects, primates, and skulls.
Annette Messager was born in Berk-sur-Mer in 1943. She lives and works in Malakoff, just south of Paris. Messager was awarded the Praemium Imperiale for sculpture in 2016. She won the Golden Lion for the best national pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art will present a major exhibition of her work in February 2022. Recently she has exhibited at the Institut Giacometti in Paris (2018), the Institut Valencia? Art Modern (IVAM) in Spain (2018), and the Villa Medici in Rome (2017). In France, an important exhibition was put in at the Muse?e des Beaux-Arts and at the Cite? de la Dentelle et de la Mode in Calais, in 2015–16. In 2014, Messager had major exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art MCA, Sydney, and at K21 in Du?sseldorf.
Earlier solo shows have been exhibited at the Museo de Arte Contempora?neo in Monterrey (MARCO), Mexico (2011); the Hayward Gallery in London (2009); the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), Finland (2008); the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea (2008); and the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (2008). A major retrospective of her work was organized by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 2007.
Important early solo exhibitions in the U.S. for Messager were held at MoMA PS1, New York and SF MoMA (1981), and at MoMA, New York and LACMA, Los Angeles (1995).
Please visit Marian Goodman Gallery, Booth B04 at Frieze New York, from May 5-9, 2021. The Shed is located at 545 West 30th Street, New York, NY 10001.