The Popesses

Louise de Bourgeois: Maman, 1999

Beginning on 9th June, the exhibition “Les Papesses” featuring five great women in art – Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Jana Sterbak, Camille Claudel and Berlinde de Bruyckere – was on display in and around the Avignon Papal Palace until 11th November 2013. The organiser was the Lambert Collection based in Avignon. Four of the artists are sculptors; only Louise Bourgeois uses textiles.

Dr. Karin Thönnissen, who has joined us in observing the field of art and textiles, has visited the exhibition and was surprised at the number of textiles represented in the show. We wondered how the idea for a show of this kind arose in France. The art scene is zeitgeisty, picking up on whatever happens to be currently “en vogue”, and will offer an opportunity for attracting the public. In Avignon, it is the festival for theatre, dance and singing performances held at the Papal Palace; the legend of the mediaeval Pope Joan provides the cue, and textiles, currently in fashion, serve as decoration – there is nothing more serious at play (