Women artists get a room at Sadie Coles

London gallery’s new show looks at how a wide array of women artists interpret the domestic space
Share
Installation view, Room, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 13 January – 18 February 2017. Copyright the artists, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London
Installation view, Room, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 13 January – 18 February 2017. Copyright the artists, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

The home can be both a refuge and a burden for female artists. In Virginia Woolf’s seminal feminist text, A Room of One’s Own, the British author argued that women writers needed a domestic space in order to work. Yet too often, the house is seen by some as a place where women are expected to carry out simpler or more mundane acts.

Few visitors to Sadie Coles’ new group show are likely to hold that view. The exhibition, entitled Room, on now until 18 February at the gallery's Kingly Street space in London, draws together a wide array of modern and contemporary female artists to look at the ways in which domestic space, historically a ‘female’ sphere of activity, has been imagined - from the late twentieth century to the present.

 

Francesca Woodman My House, Providence, Rhode Island 1976  Gelatin silver estate print 25.4 x 20.3 cm / 10 x 8 in     HQ20-FW12704P / FW 620  Courtesy George and Betty Woodman, and Victoria Miro, London.  © The Estate of Francesca Woodman
Francesca Woodman My House, Providence, Rhode Island 1976 Gelatin silver estate print 25.4 x 20.3 cm / 10 x 8 in HQ20-FW12704P / FW 620 Courtesy George and Betty Woodman, and Victoria Miro, London. © The Estate of Francesca Woodman

The artworks, which are either stand-alone installations or photographs, shouldn't be seen as simply vehicles for protest. Francesca Woodman’s black-and-white images, often shot in barely furnished rooms, conjure up the freedoms and snares of an adolescent mind, alone behind closed doors; Louise Bourgeois’s Cell XVII (Portrait), featuring a head inside a cage-like vitrine, could be seen as both protective and imprisoning; while Andrea Zittel’s Escape Vehicle reimagines the domestic sphere as a miniature caravan-like pod, ready to be jettisoned from our greater society.

 

Sarah Lucas, Chuffing Away to Oblivion, 1996, installation view,  Room, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 13 January – 18 February 2017 Copyright the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London
Sarah Lucas, Chuffing Away to Oblivion, 1996, installation view, Room, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 13 January – 18 February 2017 Copyright the artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

Nan Goldin’s domestic, though far from motherly shots are on show here too, as is Sarah Lucas’s ballsy construction, Chuffing Away to Oblivion, a kind of dirty workman’s shelter, covered in nicotine deposits and wallpapered with cruddy tabloid pornography - hardly the kind of place you’d raise the kids, and perhaps that’s the point.

Room might begin with the idea of feminine domesticity, yet the works on show demonstrate how this contemporary ideal reaches far beyond the confines of the nursery, the bedroom and the kitchen sink.

 

Installation view, Room, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 13 January – 18 February 2017 Copyright the artists, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Andrea Zittel's Escape Vehicle is in the foreground.
Installation view, Room, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 13 January – 18 February 2017 Copyright the artists, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Andrea Zittel's Escape Vehicle is in the foreground.

For greater insight into Francesca Woodman’s work order a copy of this book; for more on Nan Goldin’s intimate take on childhood, consider Eden and After; for more on Louise Bourgeois get this edition from our Contemporary Artist Series; and for more on feminist theory within the art world get Art and Feminism.


You May Also Like


Related



ABOUT PHAIDON

Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more