Annette Messager, who was born in Berck, France, in 1943, is an accomplished artist well known in Europe, where her work has been exhibited since the 1970s. Messager has been making art since the late 1960s, combining and transforming materials in order to question established hierarchies and ideologies. Her background includes training at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs (School of Decorative Arts) in Paris, but she abandoned traditional ideas about art early in her career. Messager's art, which moves between the quietly conceptual and the wildly expressionistic, is unabashedly and consistently anarchistic in its insistence on abandoning rationality. Her approach encompasses painting, embroidery, sculpture, assemblage, collage, film montage, and even writing. Her inclusive and nonhierarchical attitude towards materials and sources is deliberate: she refuses to differentiate high and low forms of art, and her mixing of sources and media is a declaration that the order of art be opened up to the disorder of life. Messager disregards accepted meanings and mixes sources and forms: "Conceptual art interests me in the same way as the art of the insane, astrology, and religious art. It's not the ideologies which these areas perpetuate [that] interest me: they are for me, above all else, repertories of forms. I make fun of sorcery and alchemy even if I make full use of their signs...."*
* Messager quoted in Bernard Marcadé, "Annette Messager," Bomb 26 (Winter 1988/89): 32.
Image above: view of Messager in her studio with Chimaeras, Malakoff, France. c. 1982.
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