Annette Messager - Alberto Giacometti
The Giacometti Institute offer a "carte blanche" to Annette Messager.
For this first invitation made to a contemporary artist to invest this new space dedicated to the work of Alberto Giacometti, Annette Messager was invited to travel through the collection of the Giacometti Foundation and Alberto Giacometti archives, accompanied by the curateur, Christian Alandete.
In Giacometti's life and work, Messager made rich and varied discoveries: sculptures and drawings, notebooks and personal documents, new works she created for the occasion. From all these constituents, she did not just create an exhibition, but a work in itself: not a "room of one's own", but several "rooms for two".
It is difficult to talk about a "four-handed" creation when only one of the artists is still alive. Yet in the definition given by Messager to each of these rooms, Giacometti can be seen as an exhibition partner rather than simply a source of inspiration.
Entering the institute, there is Giacometti's studio, the room of encounters, the room of legends, the "nose to nose" room, the room of disorders and the "room of Annettes".
Close to Giacometti's studio hang the drawings and plans of Messager's first studio ("artist", "collector") and a plan of the new exhibition.
The room of encounters is dedicated to Giacometti's entourage and acquaintances, with photographs, letters, notebooks and artworks, recalling people he "met, loved, admired and hated". Along with a declaration of love and a number of letters to his wife Annette, there are letters from Beauvoir, Sartre and Miró, discussions with André Breton, intimate drawings
The room of legends spatially reorganises the different components of No caption. The regular ticking of a clock inspires new drawings in which the legs of the Walking Man replace the hands.
The Nose to Nose room contains works by Giacometti and Messager: Giacometti's iconic Nose, sticking out through the bars of a cage, meets various versions of Pinocchio's nose: Messager's own work, along with her Tribute to Giacometti, 2015, and new pieces: The Moon-nose; Mother with child; Middle-finger Giacometti. Burlesque, grotesque or transgressive, these noses are brought together under the aegis of a litany inspired by Gertrude Stein: "a nose is a nose is a nose…".
The room of disorders has older and more recent works by Messager, on themes related to works by Giacometti, including drawings and works in ink: drawings on photographs of bodies (Song of Innocence: Giacometti's Dog "tattooed" on a baby's arm); drawings of "Rorschach ink blots" (Two Cries Together); others combining the famous scene of the pram in Battleship Potemkin, and Giacometti's Head on Rod; two friezes (Kafka-Giacometti and Meeting)… There are also new works that refer to Giacometti: Rodin with Giacometti on Barbie, an unusual combination of two icons of modern sculpture with the famous trademarked doll, and The Ball-Sleeping Bag, in which a sleeping bag, folded into the shape of a vagina, recalls the crescent moon and ball of Giacometti's surrealist Suspended Ball.
Finally, the room of Annettes references three women wearing the same name, two the artist was very close: his mother Annetta, his wife Annette, and Annette Messager, newly inducted into the family circle. The Parade of the Squirrel for Annette shows a stuffed squirrel on cushions, enmeshed in a net, showing off in front of a bronze sculpture by Giacometti representing his wife. It recalls with amused irony the parallels between mating displays and those of the artist.