Exhibitions

June - September 2015

Les Amis du NMWA is once again participating in NMWA’s exhibition series Women to Watch. The theme is nature in contemporary art and the exhibition Organic Matters - Women to Watch 2015 will feature contemporary artists working with imagery and/or materials taken from the natural world.

Les Amis du NMWA worked with Julia Garimorth, curator from the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, to identify a shortlist of women artists working in this theme in France. The shortlisted artists were :

Marie Denis
Mireille Gros
Ariane Michel
Marlène Mocquet
Françoise Pétrovitch

In October 2014, Les Amis du NMWA organized a conference in partnership with La Cité International des Arts - Flora and Fauna : a contemporary look. Julia Garimorth moderated a discussion with the five shortlisted artists

Virginia Treanor, Associate Curator at NMWA, subseqently announced the selection of Françoise Pétrovitch to represent France in the exhibition. Featuring the work of thirteen artists, Organic Matters - Women to Watch 2015 will take place from June 5 to September 13, 2015.

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Françoise Pétrovitch Sans titre, 2014, Lavis d’encre sur papier 160 x 240 cm, Signé et daté, Photo : Hervé Plumet. Courtesy Semiose galerie, Paris. N° Inv. FP14079

The Theme

Women to Watch 2015 is the fourth installment in NMWA’s exhibition series that features emerging or underrepresented artists from the states and countries in which NMWA has outreach committees. This exhibition will illuminate how contemporary artists re-contextualize images of plants and animals to reflect upon the themes of sexuality, gender politics, and the abject. Nature-based imagery created by sculptors, painters, photographers, and video artists extends the Romantic-era idea that the mysterious and uncontrollable power of nature serves as an apt metaphor for the persistent unruliness of human culture.

The connection between women and nature has a long history, one that is fraught with gendered stereotypes and discriminating assumptions. As far back as the Greek philosopher Plato, there has been a tendency in Western culture to associate nature with women in contrast to the masculine realm of the mind and rational thought. In art, women were often encouraged by society to take the natural world as their subject. In contrast to history and religious painting, which required (male) invention and imagination, subjects such as Maria Sibylla Merian’s botanic drawings, the still-life paintings of Rachel Ruysch, and Rosa Bonheur’s images of animals required “only” the power of observation.

Contemporary artists working with imagery and/or materials taken from the natural world call to mind these entrenched associations of women with nature. They open a dialogue about these traditional views and actively redefine the relationship between women, nature and, art.

Some current artists using motifs from nature in new and provocative ways are :
Julie Heffernan, Carson Fox, Claire Morgan, Kate Clark, Neeta Madahar, Ruby Osorio, Petah Coyne, Janaina Tschäpe, Rebekah Bogard, Maria Tomasula, Yayoi Kusama, Judith Schaechter, Sandy Skoglund, Birgit Jürgenssen, Inka Essenhigh, Su-Mei Tse and Beth Cavener Stichter.


Past :

November 2012 - January 2013

The theme for the third installment of Women to Watch was textiles in contemporary art. Les Amis du NMWA worked with Camille Morineau, Curator of Contemporary Collections at the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, to identify artists working in this theme. The five artists proposed to NMWA for the exhibition High Fiber – Women to Watch 2012 were :

Gaëlle Chotard
Anne Ferrer
Majida Khattari
Aurélie Mathigot
Laure Tixier

In March of 2012, les Amis du NMWA organized a conference at the Maison Rouge with Camille Morineau and the 5 artists in order for them to present their works as well as to explore the theme of “textiles in contemporary art”.

Kathryn Wat, Chief Curator at NMWA, selected Laure Tixier to represent France in the exhibit High Fiber – Women to Watch 2012. The exhibit took place from November 2, 2012 until January 6, 2013.

The questions of housing, architecture and city planning are all recurrent themes in Laure Tixier’s work. Her fantasy-based drawings and videos typically center on her vision of utopian – and – dystopian- worlds. Tixier compares her recent house sculptures made from felt to blanket forts built by children : both represent architecture as a means for shelter as well as a stage for the imagination. Her eight-foot-tall Plaid House (20008) resembles the classic architecture of Amsterdam and reflects her interest in architectural history. Tixier’s smaller felt constructions are variations on architectural designs from cultures worldwide. Her vividly colored “maquettes” resemble yurts, bell towers, office buildings, or space-age pods.

The works chosen for the exhibit were Plaid House – Immeuble d’Amsterdam (red) on loan from the MUDAM in Luxembourg as well as a selection of smaller houses, Plaid Houses III, on loan from the Galerie Polaris in Paris. Les Amis du NMWA assumed responsibility for organizing and financing the transportation of the works.

We sincerely thank Belinda de Gaudemar and Nancy Gillespie de La Selle for all their work as well as our sponsors Katherine Graham Debost and Air France for their generous support without which this project would never have happened.

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©Tixier 2012

In 2008, Les Amis du NMWA participated in Women to Watch 2008, an exhibition of photography by 8 woman artists. Valérie Belin represented France.

Two works were exhibited in Washington from Belin’s New Faces (Portraits) series, 2006, created with models from Paris agencies. Though shot in color, Belin’s models appear colorless, lifeless, and sexless. It is not clear whether the blank expressions and flattened features are images of real people or computer-generated avatars. Belin raises questions about contemporary identity by cutting away any frame of reference that would enable the viewer to convert the images into a story.

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Untitled ©Valerie Belin 2006
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Untitled ©Valerie Belin 2006
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