Travaux de dames?
Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
– 17 September 2017
How did the role of women in the applied arts develop – and what aspects are true today? This is the subject of the exhibition “Travaux de dames?” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
The exhibition focuses on works by women applied artists from the late 19th century to the present day. While women in the late 19th century were able to distinguish themselves through their expertise in a specific artisanal area, artists today can move freely in all media and use them differently as they please.
In addition to a chronological order, the works are classified into the themes of textile design, jewellery and ceramics, so that the development of work in a particular area can be seen clearly. It is poignant to see the different paths the women followed in their particular fields, all of them contributing to change for themselves as artists and for subsequent generations.
Textile design has always been characterised by an experimental approach in the use of original materials. This is reflected in the works of Vera Szekely and Sheila Hicks. Through the different epochs from which the artists originate, you can see different interpretations in their experimentation of using themselves as protagonists in their works.
Jewellery is a recurring feature in the exhibition, embodying both the ideas of the time when the pieces were created, but also the production processes of the different eras.
Another area where women were particularly free to express themselves was in the production of ceramics. Works by Guidette Carbonell, Suzanne Ramié and Jacqueline Lerat can all be seen. Sculptures and sculptured objects by artists such as Janine Janet, Niki de Saint-Phalle and Martine Damas have a special place. The exhibition is accompanied by humorous commentaries by individual artists.