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Annette Messager

[Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art]
Illustration de Annette Messager

The Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is presenting, from 13 October 2012 to 3 February 2013, the first exhibition devoted to this artist in a French museum since the big retrospective held in 2007 at the Centre Pompidou. Under the title Black Continents, the exhibition brings together works created between 2010 and 2012, most of which are being shown in public for the first time.


Annette Messager, a major artist of the international contemporary scene born in 1943, represented France at the Venice Biennial in 2005, when she was awarded the Golden Lion.

Since the beginning of the 1970s, Annette Messager has been producing original creations. Resembling collections of objects, homespun handiwork or children's games, they mix together different features such as photographs, drawings, embroidery, manufactured objects or stuffed animals. Her world, imbued with humour and showing a fascination for Art Brut, celebrates woman in the most commonplace aspects of her everyday life while, at the same time, like an ethnologist, she hunts down the world through its ultimate vestiges.

From 2001, the artist began creating large, gloomy installations powered by disturbing machines, portraying fragmented or dislocated bodies, metaphors of existential heartbreaks. They borrow from the worlds of theatre, expressionist cinema or the folk tale, as in Casino, a three-part installation created at the Venice Biennale, its guiding thread the puppet Pinocchio.

In her most recent works, Annette Messager confronts us with a world of cataclysmic blackness, a world petrified or carbonized, an urban milieu left over from the ultimate burn-out, its miniaturised detritus floating, agglutinated into sorts of flying islands, or seeming to choke what is left of life on the planet earth. Distantly inspired by the world of Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Annette Messager explores here the expressive registers of fantasy and science fiction, portraying the ills of the contemporary world in a kind of philosophical tale or political fable. Her serious intention is mitigated by her fondness for derision and playfulness, keeping terror at bay through evocations of the world of childhood.

The exhibition layout, developed in close collaboration with the artist, includes around twenty works, three of them in large-scale format. Others, like the fishnet writing, sculptural objects and drawings, are smaller. 

Exhibition Curator: Joëlle Pijaudier-Cabot, Chief Heritage Curator, Director of the Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg


A. Messager, Le miroir aux alouettes, 2010 
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris/ New-York. Artist's collection 
©photo : Marc Domage © ADAGP Paris 2012