Chimaeras (Chimères). 1982. Three acrylic and oil paint on gelatin-silver prints mounted on mesh. Overall dimensions 96 1/2 x 110 1/4 inches. Collection the artist.

In the early 1980s Messager began to make large works using her own photography, incorporating a sense of magical displacement to create her Chimaeras--a series of large, photographic composites. Chimaeras are hybrid imaginary monsters, most often given a female personality or identity.


Chimaeras (Chimères). 1982. Acrylic and oil paint on gelatin-silver prints mounted on mesh, 20 1/4 x 34 inches. Collection the artist.

Messager's own photographs of detached body parts were combined to form witches, bats, bare and twisted trees, huge spiders, and oversized banal objects such as scissors and keys whose large scale was threatening. 25K JPEG* Taking ideas from fairy tales and horror movies, Messager subverts our trust in ordinary things by enlarging them to monstrous proportions. Painted over in bright colors, the images menace each other in overtheatrical installations; they breach decorum and violate the integrity of both painting and sculpture.

They appear to be female desire gone horribly wrong: cobbled-together witches, hybrid monsters, castration fantasies abound in a celebration of la bête noire--the (female) dark beast. They are grotesque not only in their subjects but also in their mixing up of various entities in dangerous and unstable Frankenstein-monsterish conglomerates where reality and fantasy become confused.


Chimaeras (Chimères). 1982. Acrylic and oil paint on gelatin-silver prints mounted on mesh, 20 x 24 inches (50.8 x 61 cm). Collection the artist.

* The Chimaera Traps (Les Pièges à chimères). 1982. Installation view, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1984. Collection the artist.

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