artist / participant
The first retrospective presentation in the United States of the work of this French artist, one of the most provocative and important contemporary artists living in Europe, it included approximately twenty-five installations of works created between 1971 and 1995. The exhibition, which had its first showing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago, where it was on view from February 17 to May 19, 1996.
The exhibition was installed in half a dozen rooms on the ground floor of the Museum. Each room held one or more densely arranged installations. A central characteristic of Messager's work is its mix of mediums and styles; as the viewer moved from room to room, works made up of small framed pieces arranged on a wall gave way to accumulations of drawings and writings arranged on tables; large, luridly colored composite monsters chasing each other across walls; geometric shapes filled in with hundreds of small black-and-white photographs hung on strings; and toys, dolls, and images skewered on pikes or raised up on poles in riotous parades. The accumulation of images created the sense that more than one artist is at work; Messager, who designed the exhibition, strives for that effect. The variety of works and the modes of display contributed to a carnivalesque atmosphere in which the cumulative effect was one of successive and intensely felt emotions.
12.10.95 - 16.01.96 Museum of Modern Art, New York
17.02.96 - 19.05.96 Art Institute Chicago