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Revoir rouge et (dé)faire les tapisseries avec Annette Messager: du genre au musée.

Barnet, Marie-Claire (2020) 'Revoir rouge et (dé)faire les tapisseries avec Annette Messager: du genre au musée.', French studies., 74 (2). pp. 240-258.


This article argues that the work of the internationally renowned French artist Annette Messager renews the deconstruction of the representation of women in order to break down stereotypes about sexuality and gender, revisiting the problematic question of the representation of sight and the limits imposed on ‘feminine’ desire. The artistic interventions in question occur in prestigious exhibition spaces ranging from the Musée de Cluny to the Villa Medici. The study draws firstly on contemporary feminist debates to stress the necessity of a transhistorical corpus and to shed new light on the radical politics at stake in Messager’s œuvre. It then looks at the way ‘À mon seul désir’ re-engages with the subversive potential of the allegorical figures gracing the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, disrupting our ideas about the icons, legends, and artistic materials of modernity. Examination of the status of women leads to a critical investigation of museum spaces today, while this article also evaluates how gender codes are revealed in colours and fashion rules on display in society. A final section brings the perspectives of Messager’s transgressive work to bear on the subject/object of ‘feminine’ art, placing the symbolism of the heart once more at the forefront of critical debate and rediscovering the hyperfluidity of the concept of gender.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in French studies following peer review. The version of record Barnet, Marie-Claire (2020). Revoir rouge et (dé)faire les tapisseries avec Annette Messager: du genre au musée. French Studies 74(2): 240-258 is available online at:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:18 October 2019
Date of first online publication:08 February 2020
Date first made open access:08 February 2022

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