• gerard van weyenbergh

Three failed exhibitions about women

Part 1. The Renaissance of women, Château de Blois, from April 9 to July 10, 2022.

Part 2. Romantic heroines, Paris, Museum of Romantic Life, from April 6 to September 4, 2022

Part 3. Pioneering Artists in the Paris of the Roaring Twenties, Paris, Musée du Luxembourg, from March 2 to July 10, 2022

The phenomenon is spreading even in museums, it is the syndrome of "those and those", of "they and they", of "French women and men". It consists in wanting stubbornly to distinguish women from men. To distinguish them from them, that is to say, to separate them from them to value them better. Is this the best way? Perhaps women would like us to forget their sex? Maybe they would like to be treated on an equal footing with men (whose gender is not emphasized in the slightest of their movements). But to be their equals, it would still be necessary to be with them. Facing them. And treated with the same requirement.

However, paralyzed by the predominance - obvious and logical - of male artists in their collections of ancient art, museums are tearing themselves away on the market for works whose main interest is no longer the artistic quality, but the femininity of their authors. Talented women deserve better than this. In exhibitions, all excuses are good to bring them together. Artists, models, or sponsors, they form a homogeneous entity, to believe that they all occupy the same place in society, adopt the same point of view, share the same aspirations, just as they all smell of roses and drink juice. of papaya, it is well known. So we bring them together. Unity is strength, they say? Not always. We often come close to the henhouse effect, by sticking them together in a pretty cage, well protected from the wolf.

They are currently at the heart of three exhibitions covering three different periods:

  • Renaissance women of power at the Château de Blois

  • Romantic heroines at the Musée de la Vie Romantique

  • Pioneers of the Roaring Twenties at the Musée du Luxembourg

If romantic heroines are a real subject, could we seriously consider an exhibition on “men of power in the Renaissance” or “male artists of the 1920s”? The fact that women are less visible and less numerous on the artistic scene does not justify conglomerating them and drowning them in far too vast, far too vague subjects.

These three exhibitions thus have several points in common: they prefer to be in tune with the times rather than delve into a scientific subject, favor a simplified discourse, and choose to show that women are victims who have had to fight to impose themselves in a society that oppressed them.

Benedicte Bonnet Saint-Georges for La Tribune de l'art