Annette Messager: Les Tortures Volontaires (Hatje Cantz, 2013)

Still up-to-date: Annette Messager’s photo series on the image of the body from 1972. It consists of 81 works of which Annette Messager has made available 40 diptychs in their original formats as gelatin-silver prints.

Annette Messager was born in Berk-sur-Mer in 1943. She lives and works in Malakoff, just south of Paris. From the 1970s onward, Annette Messager’s work has been known for a heterogeneity of form and subject matter, ranging from the personal to the fictional, the social to the universal. Through an embrace of everyday materials, and principles of assemblage, collection and theatrical display, her diverse media has included construction, documents, language, objects,  taxidermy,  drawings,  photographs, fabric, embroidery, image collections, albums, sculpture and installation.


Video: Annette Messager – ‘I Work by Intuition’ | TateShots (Youtube)

Annette Messager by David Seidner, c. 1988.

“Beauty knows no pain” is a phrase that, upon closer scrutiny, is shocking and disturbing. The French artist Annette Messager (*1943 in Berck) began pursuing this idea in the seventies when she assembled photographs from magazines for her groundbreaking series Les Tortures Volontiers (Voluntary Torture).

In Messager’s photographs, which are as alarming as they are absurd, breasts are lifted into suction cups, thighs are massaged with electricity, exfoliations look as if a second layer of skin is being peeled off. Yet the laughter sticks in the viewer’s throat, because women all around the world still actually submit themselves to these and other procedures in order to look more like the norm and more “beautiful.”

Publisher’s Info

Publisher: Hatje Cantz