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Exhibition celebrates women in 20th-century abstract art

March 6, 2023   /   Shanghai, China

Exhibition celebrates women in 20th-century abstract art

Alessandro Wang

"Women in Abstraction" exhibition at the West Bund Museum

The exhibition "Women in Abstraction" at the West Bund Museum reevaluates the contributions of a great many female artists, who set out to write an alternative history of 20th-century abstraction in the West. It shows the importance of some female artists, and their original incursions into the 21st-century artistic movement.

The exhibition will run through March 8, coinciding with the International Women's Day.

For the Centre Pompidou Paris and West Bund Museum project in Shanghai, the curator Christine Macel presents an original reconfiguration of the exhibition, based on the work in the Centre Pompidou collection.

An ensemble of 34 artists and nearly 100 works diverse in nature, ranging from painting to film, sculpture, photography and installation, are exhibited in a chronological layout covering the period from the late 19th century to the present day.

This history of abstraction has been extended to many mediums and thus the exhibition begins with a presentation of Lo?e Fuller's "Serpentine Dance," which fascinated the Parisian public in the late 19th century.

Until now, female artists' contributions to the abstraction world through dance have received little attention. Spirals of rising and falling fabrics indeed created veritably ephemeral patterns in space. During her performances, Fuller made her body a luminous and colorful abstract form in emotion. Due to her refusal to be filmed, there remains only one film of one imitator, which is on display in the exhibition. Each photograph in the film was colored by hand.

Exhibition celebrates women in 20th-century abstract art

Tan Weiyun

"Electric Prisms" by Sonia Delaunay

A collection of works by Sonia Delaunay-Terk evokes the importance of her simultaneous art and her links to literature. As a pioneer of abstraction, Delaunay, an artist of Russian heritage, exploits the contrast of colors that create an intense and glowing optical vibration.

In the painting "Electric Prisms," the module of the disk is reprised in shimmering rings using all the colors of the rainbow, while eliminating all perspective. Based on the artist's observation of the transformation of colors and forms imposed by electric light, the picture achieves a cosmic dimension.

Several theme-based rooms bring together artists who participated in the same trend. A room is dedicated to the abstractization of reality by female photographers as early as the 1920s. Another space focuses on the development of optical and kinetic art in Europe and the United States in the 1960s.

Exhibition celebrates women in 20th-century abstract art

"Spring Bank" by Helen Frankenthaler

Major painters like Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler and Shirley Jaffe are thus brought together in a room dedicated to abstract expressionism in the 1950s.

Frankenthaler developed the soak stain technique as early as 1952. Working on the floor, she poured paint diluted with turpentine directly onto the raw cotton canvas. She then spread out the blobs of paint, forming abstract shapes.

Her large work "Spring Bank" uses a fairly pale palette of beige, green, blue and orange yellow, evoking the landscape described in the title. A bank in springtime, the painter once explained that she was drawing with color, and thus giving shape to the totally abstract memory of the scenery.

Exhibition celebrates women in 20th-century abstract art

Alessandro Wang

"The Questioning Column" (center) by Sheila Hicks

The monumental works of several artists, who are essential to the development of textile sculpture in Europe and the United States, and whose works are often grouped together under the term "fiber art," chime with each other in another room.

For five decades, American artist Sheila Hicks has contributed to the revolution in textile arts. Her abstract sculptures and monumental installations are influenced by traditional weaving techniques. She studied on many trips to India, Morocco and Mexico.

Her giant work "The Questioning Column" is made up of a vertical ensemble of woven and deliberately ruffle cords that seem to fall from the ceiling to the floor. This accumulation of rainbow-colored threads enhances the effects of material and texture. Color itself is treated as a material, while the architectural space is questioned.

Exhibition info:

Date: Through March 8

Venue: Gallery 3, West Bund Museum

Address: 2600 Longteng Ave

Source: City News Service