Annette Messager was born in Berck-sur-Mer, France, in 1943. As a child, she was encouraged to pursue art by her father. From 1962 to 1966, she studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, where she produced Surrealist-style sculptures. Messager is known mainly for her contemporary art installations which often incorporates photographs, prints and drawings, and various materials.
In 1971, Galerie Germain in Paris asked Messager to participate in a wool-themed exhibition. She submitted a dead sparrow for which she had knitted a covering. This marked the beginning of her series The Boarders (1971–72), in which she first began to incorporate taxidermy animals into her sculpture.
In recent years, she has extended her exploration of the body and its macabre fragmentations. In some of her works she comprises stuffed, yet flaccid, human and animal parts as well as hybrid forms combining bits of both, all of which are strung from the ceiling.
Messager’s artworks are modest in their choice of materials. Clothing, badges, stuffed toys, yarn and synthetic hair all feature prominently, reworked by the artist to unsettling effect. Images are culled from popular magazines and newspapers, drawn by hand or photographed, while particular words are repeated over and over, like a litany.
Some of her works have titles like “dependence / independence”, “articulated / disjointed”, “full / empty”.
That’s because the artist likes contradictions, such as those between drawing and photography. For example, in her play “articulés / Desarticulés”, when the work is articulated, also dismantles and unfolds at the same time. The idea of two contradictory elements pleases her a lot and is always present in the course of her work as well as her way of work: from joy to sadness, from speak until “laugh to tears,” or “crying while laughing”. That’s what Messager loves, this opposition aspect.
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