Review

Women Artists in the Face of Abstraction at the Musée Soulages

18.04.2020 |

Exhibition view: Femmes années 50. Au fil de l’abstraction, peinture et sculpture, Musée Soulages, Rodez, 14 December 2019 – 10 May 2020, Courtesy Musée Soulages

The ambition of the exhibition Femmes années 50. Au fil de l’abstraction, peinture et sculpture, organised by the Musée Soulages in Rodez, France is to reintegrate, in the most objective way possible, female artists into the history of abstract art.

Women Artists in the Face of Abstraction at the Musée Soulages - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view: Femmes années 50. Au fil de l’abstraction, peinture et sculpture, Musée Soulages, Rodez, 14 December 2019 – 10 May 2020, Courtesy Musée Soulages

Curated by the museum director Benoît Decron, this exhibition, which includes 42 artists and 83 artworks sourced from large international and regional museums, foundations, galleries and private collections, presents a broad panorama of post-war artistic creation, a time when geometrical and lyrical abstraction were opposed.

Women Artists in the Face of Abstraction at the Musée Soulages - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view: Femmes années 50. Au fil de l’abstraction, peinture et sculpture, Musée Soulages, Rodez, 14 December 2019 – 10 May 2020, Courtesy Musée Soulages

Although there were numerous female artists who exhibited in galleries and Parisian salons during the 1950s, only a handful achieved the same recognition as their male counterparts, becoming fundamental figures in the history of art, such as Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979), Joan Mitchell (1925-1992), Aurélie Nemours (1910-2005) and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992).

Women Artists in the Face of Abstraction at the Musée Soulages - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Geneviève Claisse, Slalom, 1960, 162 x 130 cm, Courtesy Galerie Denise René and Musée Soulages

The first part of the exhibition, dedicated to geometric abstraction, opens with a painting by S. Delaunay (Rythme coloré, 1958-1960) and continues with a beautiful selection of works by Vera Molnár (born 1924), A. Nemours and Geneviève Claisse (1935-2018). These works are juxtaposed with two wooden sculptures (Le Teck, 1956; Obéro, 1959), emblematic of the work of  sculptor Marta Pan (1923-2008). Other lesser known artists, such as Jeanne Kosnick-Kloss (1892-1966) and Francine Holley (born 1919), also make their appearance.

Women Artists in the Face of Abstraction at the Musée Soulages - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view: Femmes années 50. Au fil de l’abstraction, peinture et sculpture, Musée Soulages, Rodez, 14 December 2019 – 10 May 2020, Courtesy Musée Soulages

The exhibition continues with lyrical abstraction, ­the exhibition’s main focus, revealing a diverse group of works realised over the decade, some of which immediately stand out. These include a masterful painting by J. Mitchell (Untitled, 1954) in the middle of the space, and a green and gold canvas by Anna-Eva Bergman (1909-1987, No. 13-1955. Univers d’or, 1955), both hung on bright yellow picture rails and isolated from the others.

Women Artists in the Face of Abstraction at the Musée Soulages - AWARE Artistes femmes / women artists

Exhibition view: Femmes années 50. Au fil de l’abstraction, peinture et sculpture, Musée Soulages, Rodez, 14 December 2019 – 10 May 2020, Courtesy Musée Soulages

As the exhibition continues, the public can easily be drawn into the depths of the paintings by Marcelle Loubchansky (1917-1988) paintings, seduced by the ink drawings of Pierrette Bloch (1928-2017), and energised by the explosion of colour in the works of Shirley Jaffe (1923-2016).

Finally, the most striking point of this exhibition is undoubtedly the fact that the curators chose to punctuate the entire display with a dozen works that strikingly remind us of the existence of remarkable sculptors, such as Alicia Penalba (1918-1982), Isabelle Waldberg (1911-1990) and Simone Boisecq (1922-2012), all of whom are unfortunately rarely seen in museums.

 

Femmes années 50. Au fil de l’abstraction, peinture et sculpture from 14 December 2019 to 10 May 2020 at the Musée Soulages, Rodez, France.

Translated from French by Katia Porro.

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