What do Berthe Morisot, Orlan, Frida Kahlo, Claude Cahun, Natalia Gontcharova, Louise Bourgeois, Raymonde Arcier, Pénélope Bagieu, Zanele Muholi, Sabine Weiss, etc. have in common? The Center Pompidou answers: they make Art. Ahead of the exhibition “They’re abstraction”, which we hope to be able to discover on May 5 (106 women artists and more than 500 works dating from the 1860s to the 1980s), Beaubourg wants us to wait in times of Covid , curfews and other confinements. The museum therefore offers this free Mooc (online course), accessible from this Monday on the FUN platform (France digital university). A fun, interactive, educational course, the prerequisite of which is the only curiosity.
“This Mooc is needed in France more than elsewhere, laughs the art historian Thérèse Saint-Gelais, invited to speak on the online magazine. Many do not know the work of very important women artists. Of course, Camille Claudel, that’s not a problem, nor Frida Kahlo, because they have life experiences that we want to hear about: the relationship with Rodin and Claudel, the health problems of Frida Kahlo; even Artemisia Gentileschi would have been raped… But we are not talking about the artist’s work. “
The work of women deserves to be further explored and shown. It goes through education. Therese Saint-Gelais Art historian
If Thérèse Saint-Gelais had to take her doctorate in art history in France because it was not yet possible in Quebec, since then, we use epicene writing there to write the memoirs, when here, the inclusive writing still cringes academics. “It always impresses me to see that there are no major exhibitions on female artists of history like Artemisia Gentileschi or Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. We will always talk about pastels by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, while those by Rosalba Carriera are magnificent… We must also stop with these “coffee table books”, those beautiful big books to flip through that you put on the table. It’s good to show illustrations, but you have to show more general corpora of women artists. The work of women deserves to be further explored and shown. It goes through education. “
Avant-garde and disorder in the genre
In five chronological sequences, the curator Karolina Lewandowska (curator of the exhibition Dora Maar), the professor at Uqam (University of Quebec in Montreal) Thérèse Saint-Gelais, and the speaker Catherine Lascault went to find the women in the history of art, in the avant-garde of 1910-1930, at the feminist turn of the 1970s, then from 1980 to the present day, when the genre becomes confused …
The concern not simply to stop at sight as a sense, but also at touch, taste, smell, and hearing. Therese Saint-Gelais
“I am not ready to assert that there is a feminine writing, a feminine signature in painting, in sculpture, resumes the one who is also director of Iref (Institute for research and feminist studies). But there have been times in the history of art, when performance and installations have arrived in particular, where women have taken their place through their bodies. I did an exhibition called “Far from the eyes, close to the body”. It was not necessarily the body that I wanted to present, but rather the relationship to the body, the sensitivity of the artist. As if, with female artists, there had been this concern not simply to stop at sight as a sense, but also at touch, taste, smell, and hearing. “
An approach that has not escaped film analysis either, developed in particular by Iris Brey in her book the female gaze.
The field of art is always open, completes Aliénor Philbert, to the production of Mooc: “We have chosen to go into different fields of current art, also giving the floor to artists, to Pénélope Bagieu, comic book author, Eva Jospin, plastic artist who works on the cardboard medium, and artists from other generations. like the pioneering composer of electronic music in France, Éliane Radigue, and photographer Sabine Weiss, in whom the gender issue is not at all present in her work. We also found it interesting to show that it is not a universal concern when you are a woman to think through gender. ”