February 7, 2010By Heidi EllisonArchive

Pop! Goes the Art World

Paris Update Pharrell Perrotin WilliamsTakashi-Murakami 29385hd

“Portrait of Pharrell and Helen – Dance” (2014), by Takashi Murakami.

Not everyone is clapping along for the exhibition “GIRL,” curated by pop star Pharrell Williams in Parisian gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin’s new Paris space, the Salle de Bal (Hôtel du Grand Veneur, 60 rue de Turenne, 75003) “to pay tribute to femininity through the vision of 32 artists,” half of them women.

While the show includes works by artists with impeccable feminist cred – Marina Abramović (including her brilliant 1980 video performance with Ulay, “Rest Energy”), Sophie Calle, Cindy Sherman, the Guerrilla Girls, etc. – it also has some, like Takashi Murakami, who have none in particular, and includes a work by one with an especially bad rep in this respect: photographer Terry Richardson.

The inclusion of the photo in question, “Eat Me,” has raised objections, notably from Guardian journalist Sarah Moroz, who saw the image of a girl holding a decorated cookie reading “Eat Me” in front of her (shaved) pubic area (the only part of her body visible, along with her naughty bits) as pure misogyny. Williams defended its inclusion in the interests of inciting debate – it certainly has done that – and added that “just because you’re a good girl doesn’t mean you don’t have naughty thoughts.”

The show could be seen as presenting all sides of the feminine condition – women do have a sexual side, too, after all. What I found strange were the several works by male artists taking Williams as their subject: what does a statue of Williams by Daniel Arsham have to do with “a celebration of women”?

Perhaps the real question is why a pop star – as genial as he may be – is curating an art show in a respected contemporary art gallery. In any case, enough good art – the Abramović piece mentioned above, for example, and Germaine Richier’s 1943 sculpture of a naked woman fencing, “L’Escrimeuse”  – is included in the show to make a visit to Perrotin’s gallery worth the trip. Then you can form your own opinion. Through June 25.

Heidi Ellison

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