The Power of Women!
‘La Grande Madre’ exhibition opens in Milan.
The Great Mother is an exhibition about women’s power: not just the life-giving creative power of mothers, but above all, the power denied to women and the power won by women over the course of the twentieth century, chronicling gender struggles, sexual politics, and clashes between tradition and emancipation… exploring female icons and clichés of femininity.
It’s huge! Over 400 works by 139 international artists made between 1900 and the present.
Three quarters of the artists are female.
The show opens with a presentation of the archive of Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn, who throughout her life, starting in the Thirties, gathered thousands of images of female idols, mothers, matrons, Venuses and prehistoric deities… a vast collection that was used by Carl Gustav Jung and other psychologists researching the archetype of the great mother and the matriarchal cultures of prehistory.
A major section of the exhibition focuses on women in the early avant-garde movements, specifically, in Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism.
Showing the work of women artists alongside the male artists who have dominated the histories of these movements, showing the radical transformations of gender roles that accompanied the economic and societal changes of the early twentieth century.
Works by Frida Kahlo, Dora Maar, Meret Oppenheim and other artists of the time whose fame was long overshadowed by their male colleagues and are in this exhibition intertwined with a selection of scenes of motherhood from silent films and documents about Fascist birth-rate policies, alongside images of sorrowing mothers and proud heroines in Neorealist cinema.
Many women artists who emerged in the Sixties and Seventies — created a new vocabulary of forms, full of biological references, through which these artists declared the centrality of the female body, often associating it with the powers of nature and the earth.
Painters as different as Marlene Dumas and Nicole Eisenman portray motherhood as a joy and burden, liberation and imprisonment. Pipilotti Rist mixes Baroque painting with music video esthetics in a new work that transforms the ceiling of a room in Palazzo Reale into an electronic fresco, while Rachel Harrison records the apparitions of the Virgin Mary in an American suburb.
The exhibition is enormous! Rounded out by many important installations by Jeff Koons, Thomas Schütte and significant works by Constantin Brancusi, Maurizio Cattelan, Lucio Fontana, Kara Walker, to cite just a few.
LA GRANDE MADRE
Piazza Duomo 12, Milano
26 Agosto – 15 Novembre, 2015
For more information have a look at:
1. Alice Neel, Nancy and the twins, 1971
2. Anna Maria Maiolino, Por um Fio [By a thread] from the Fotopoemação series [Photo-poem-action], 1976
3. Pipilotti Rist, Mother, Son & the Holy Milanese Garden, 2002/2015(video installation)
4. Catherine Opie, Miggi & Ilene, Los Angeles, California, 1995
5. Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, 1936
6. Keith Edmier, Beverly Edmier, 1967, 1998
7. Marlene Dumas, Pregnant Image, 1988-1990
Text by Claudia Antonia Merkle