From 17 November 2007 to 24 February 2008
Agnès Thurnauer presents ses ‘Portraits grandeur nature’. (Life-Size Portraits) This new series of works takes an offbeat look at the history of contemporary art via a gallery of portraits of major 20th Century artists. This series is produced by the Artists’ Agency, and looks into gender and the names of artists. Agnès Thurnauer seeks to highlight the following question: why is the history of art monolithically male? So in 2005 she began to feminise the names of major historical artists, and more widely to switch male and female names. In doing so she recreates a whole parallel population of fictitious artists reinventing another history of art, providing our imagination with the possibility of other lives and works.
The names of fictitious artists first appeared in murals, then on little coloured lapel badges and now appear in the form of sculptures like a supersized version of the badges. Their format and the way they are hung always recall paintings the artist’s preferred medium. They open up her comments beyond the issue of gender to the issue of name. How do the names of artists operate on our minds? How does it become a form in its own right and how can it represent something on its own?
Beyond these imaginary artists invented by Agnès Thurnauer, here there are also portraits of the real artists who inspired them. Portraits drawn in hollow, while their works continue to resonate within us by their strength, and resist the upheaval carried out in their name.
The exhibition also presents pictorial pieces The series entitled ‘Bien faite, mal faite, pas faite’ (Well done, badly done, not done’ (2004), hijacks advertising imagery but cancelling out the message and substiting Robert Filliou’s famous principle of equivalence. The large triptych entitled ‘Sans Titre’ (Probably) (Untitled (Probably), (2007) seems to be at the very heart of the exhibition, pulling the twelve portraits which surround it into its hypnotic vortex.