Innocents, help

  • 2017
  • Annette Messager
  • Mixed media
  • 327 x 300 x 33 cm

For a 2017 commission to create a piece referencing The Massacre of the Innocents (Nicolas Poussin, around 1629, Musée Condé, Chantilly), Annette Messager created Innocents-Help (2017), a large wall installation made up of the words “Innocents” and “Help,” as well as various fragments of fabric and plastic bodies painted black, caught in a net. On the ground, the puppet embodies “the Innocent,” a child; above, the only colored spot is the red “o” of the word “Innocents” like a mouth crying “Help.” The artist uses textile calligraphy to send a message of tragic circumstances. 

© Adagp, Paris, 2020. Photo © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage


Annette Messager

Annette Messager belongs to a generation of artists who, since the 1970s, have been rewriting the language of art.

Without stating a specific position, Messager asserts her dual identity as a woman and an artist. She creates characters that cultivate ambiguity: the Collectionneuse, the Truqueuse, the Amoureuse and the Femme pratique, whose imaginary lives are opportunities to expose prejudice and express what is usually left unsaid. In the 1980s Messager began to incorporate fragments of the body through photography, fur and puppets, inserting them in mechanised worlds, focusing on the emotive and symbolic charge of works that reflect the theatre of life in derisory, grotesque or dramatic fashion. In 2005, Messager received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, where she represented France.

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