Annette Messager

Biography of Annette Messager

The deceptively playful French artist Annette Messager can never be taken lightly—what may appear frivolous in her work can often turn out be highly complex and challenging. Best known for her installations, she is also recognized for her skill over a vast array of other mediums including photography, drawing, sculpture, painting, and performance.


Born in 1943 in France, Messager was encouraged to become an artist by her father who was an amateur painter. By the 1970s she was using taxidermied animals in her sculpture and employing different personas in her work. This was to become a recurring theme throughout her oeuvre as the artist experimented with slipping into the role of the peddler or the trickster, continually playing with the overlapping nature of reality and fiction.


In the 80s Annette Messager started to move into more violent terrain and began using distorted and grotesque body shapes that she would then paint over—macabre themes that the artist would continue to return to in her work. Simultaneously, however, Messager also started becoming interested in more domestic activities, needlework and knitting. Much like in the featured work Mon guide du tricot, 1973 – 2011, Messager explores the more familiar and apparently innocuous affairs of daily life through a feminist lens.


In 2005 Annette Messager's work was featured in the Venice Biennale where she won the Golden Lion for her installation that draws on the legend of Pinocchio and transformed the French pavilion into a casino. Messager has exhibited extensively around the world and been a regular feature in many of the most significant institutions. In 1995 Messager had a solo exhibition at the MoMA in New York and in 2007 she unveiled her installation The Messengers at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, which travelled to the Hayward Gallery in London in 2009.

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