The Blue Room (La chambre bleue), by Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938).
Oil on canvas, 900 x 1160mm. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Mus√©e national d’art moderne.
I don’t paint like a woman is supposed to paint. Thank God, art doesn’t bother about things like that.
-Alice Neel
How is a woman “supposed” to paint, or express herself as an artist?
Do you see most female artists as being “feminists?”  Do you have the opportunity to see the work of many female artists in general?
If you have the opportunity to travel to the Pacific Northwest of the United States, there may be no better place to contemplate the role of women in modern and contemporary art than Seattle. The Seattle Art Museum recently opened the exhibition “Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris.”
This exciting new exhibition is a survey of the work of ¬†female artists organized by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, a complex that is the home of Mus√©e National d’Art Moderne, Europe‚Äôs largest modern art museum. ¬†This exhibition at SAM is a version of the exhibition elles@centrepompidou, which first appeared in Paris in 2009.
At the time this exhibition was opening in Paris, curator Camille Morineau told the LA Times ¬†”In the States, you think about women’s art. In France, never. It’s not a subject. If the subject does not exist, there is no possibility of discussion. For me, that’s the big issue about doing this. We are turning it into a subject.”
The more than 125 works of art on display include paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, videos, and installations made by 75 women artists from 1909 to 2007.  This exhibition includes works by notable women from around the world including Frida Kahlo, Diane Arbus, Marina Abramović, Atsuko Tanaka, and Cindy Sherman.
Seattle is the only US city this exhibition will be traveling to. ¬†Female artists will not only be featured in SAM‚Äôs main museum in downtown Seattle, but at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park, and SAM Gallery as well. ¬†The SAM downtown will also feature an original companion exhibition installed in its contemporary galleries, Elles: SAM‚ÄîSingular Works by Seminal Women Artists. This exhibition consists of nine interrelated shows and installations with 30 artworks from its permanent collection along with loans from local collectors. The Seattle Art Museum is encouraging the public to respond to the exhibition online by contributing to their ‚ÄúWall of Women” page on Tumblr.¬†Users are encouraged to share text, images, or videos of women who have inspired them.
Outside the walls of the SAM museums, Paris SAM, and a number of organizations in the Seattle community are joining together to present Elles: Seattle, a series of exhibitions, talks, gatherings, conferences, and performances.   “This project will galvanize our community around art, culture and societal issues that are important to women and celebrate the contributions women have made across a variety of sectors.”
According to Catharina Manchanda, SAM’s lead curator of modern and contemporary art, “This is not a definitive survey of everything women have done over the course of the 20th century.” During a recent walk-through at SAM, Manchanda said “We look at this as the tip of the iceberg, a beginning from which you can ask many other questions and tell different stories.”
Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris is on view at the Seattle Museum of art now through January 13, 2013.
-Emily Holm
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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