Agnès Thurnauer

Last updated
Agnès Thurnauer
Agnes Thurnauer.jpeg
Born1962 (age 5758)
NationalityFrench, Swiss
Education École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs
Known for Painting, collage, sculpture, installation art
Notable work
Portraits grandeur nature, Matrice/sol, Grande prédelle, Big-Big et Bang-Bang, Olympia

Agnès Thurnauer (born 1962) is a French-Swiss contemporary artist. [1] Primarily a painter, she also works with a number of other media and techniques. [2]



Agnès Thurnauer was born in 1962, in Paris, France, where she continues to live and work. [3] She attended the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, where she studied cinema and video art . [4] [5]

Notable work

Big-Big et Bang-Bang (1995—1996)

Big-Big et Bang-Bang are a series of abstract acrylic paintings in subtle colour tones on canvas created by Thurnauer between 1995 and 1996. [6] The works were created with the canvases stapled to the wall. The paintings were only mounted on frames when complete, for the purposes of display and preservation. [7]

Portraits grandeur nature Agnes Thurnauer Portraits grandeur nature.jpg
Portraits grandeur nature

Portraits grandeur nature (2007—2009)

In 2007, Thurnauer first exhibited her work Portraits grandeur nature, a series of oversized buttons (each 120 cm in diameter) in resin and epoxy paint displaying the names of well-known artists, mostly male, transformed into names evoking the opposite gender. For example, Marcel Duchamp becomes Marcelle Duchamp and Andy Warhol becomes Annie Warhol. An exception is the button reading Louis Bourgeois, a masculinized version of the name of the artist Louise Bourgeois. [8] This work, which questions both the literal and figurative representation of women in art, propelled her to previously unattained notoriety as an artist. [9]

Grande Predelle Rainbow Elbow (2008) Agnes Thurnauer Predelles.jpg
Grande Prédelle Rainbow Elbow (2008)

Prédelles (2007—2011)

Beginning in 2007, Thurnauer produced a series of works, called Prédelle (the French term for predella). The Grande Prédelle incarnations, produced from 2008-2011, are diptychs, each depicting a large feathered wing along a deformation of the iconic title of the magazine Elle. [10] The title and subject convey a multiple play on words, simultaneously acting as a homonym for "près d'elle" and "aile", respectively meaning "close to her" and "wing" in French. [11] Cyclicly, each Grande Prédelle painting has its own palette glued to it as a finishing touch. [12]

Olympia #2 (2012) Agnes Thurnauer Olympia 2.jpeg
Olympia #2 (2012)

Olympia #2 (2012)

In 2013, Thurnauer was invited by Yale University to participate in an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of two masterpieces by Édouard Manet ( Olympia and Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe , 1863). Thurnauer contributed the painting Olympia#2 , which features a rendition of Manet's Olympia with textual terms of endearment superimposed upon the image. [13] Thurnauer was also a speaker at the associated conference. [14]

You (2012—2013)

During a period of two months in 2015, Jesus College at the University of Cambridge replaced three portraits of male alumni in the formal dining hall with a crayon drawing triptych by Thurnauer, called You. These large portraits of women are extractions from paintings by Manet: A Bar at the Folies-Bergère , The Railway (of painter Victorine Louise Meurent), and another portrait of Meurent. [15] Central to Thurnauer's choice of Manet's work as a starting point is the notion that his female subjects were themselves painters, as opposed to models. Inevitably, the subjects' regards captured in the paintings are therefore those of Manet's professional peers looking upon him as he worked. [16] This marked the first time that Thurnauer's work was shown in the United Kingdom. [17]

Matrice/sol (2012) Agnes Thurnauer Matrice.jpg
Matrice/sol (2012)

Matrice/sol (2012)

The work Matrice/sol consists of moulds of letters of the alphabet made from resin. Through the characters created from the negative space of the moulds, the work is intended to demonstrate that art is a question of interpretation and language, elements that change constantly. [18] [19]

Painting as a medium

Thurnauer continues to challenge the relevance of the medium of painting today, which remains her staple despite ventures into other methods. [2] For Thurnauer, a painting is not simply a passive surface displaying an image. Rather, it is a means to an active experience for the viewer. [20] She has stated that she is interested in working with paint, an ordinary, inanimate object, as a means of confronting one's intemporality. [9]

Relationship with language

Thurnauer has long been fascinated with language, as evidenced by the recurring theme of wordplay, text and symbols in her work. [21] She has been considered as a distant successor to the Art & Language movement. [22]

Thurnauer considers the medium of painting to be a “place of speech". Her interpretation of this idea transcends the physical appearance of text in paintings, implying the materialization of thought itself. [21] In her sculpture, Matrice/Sol, she employs letters moulded from resin, not merely as literal tools, but as spatial delimiters whose interstices form an expanse within which one can circulate. [22]

Solo exhibitions (selected)

Group exhibitions (selected)

Related Research Articles

Musée dOrsay Art museum in Paris, France

The Musée d'Orsay is a museum in Paris, France, on the Left Bank of the Seine. It is housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station built between 1898 and 1900. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Many of these works were held at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume prior to the museum's opening in 1986. It is one of the largest art museums in Europe. Musée d'Orsay had more than 3.6 million visitors in 2019.

Claude Closky French artist

Claude Closky is a French contemporary artist, lives and works in Paris, France.

Jean-Marc Bustamante, born 1952 in Toulouse, is a French artist, painter, sculptor and photographer. He is a noted conceptual and installation artist and has incorporated ornamental design and architectural space in his works.

Árpád Szenes Hungarian-Jewish abstract painter

Árpád Szenes was a Hungarian-Jewish abstract painter who worked in France.

Annette Messager French artist

Annette Messager is a French visual artist. In 2005 she won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Biennale for her artwork at the French Pavilion. In 2016, she won the prestigious Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award. She lives and works in Malakoff, France.

Jean Rustin was a French painter and prominent figurative artist.

Jean-Michel Othoniel sculptor from France

Jean-Michel Othoniel is a contemporary artist born in 1964 in Saint-Etienne (France). He lives and works in Paris.

Fernand Toupin was a Québécois abstract painter best known as a member of the avant-garde movement Les Plasticiens. His work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

Johan Creten sculptor

Johan Creten is a Flemish sculptor, born in Sint-Truiden, Belgium. He lives and works in Paris, France. In 2009 he was nominated for the Flemish Culture Prize.

Henri Richelet French painter

Henri Richelet was a French painter.

Tatiana Trouvé Italian artist

Tatiana Trouvé is a contemporary visual artist based in Paris. Born in Cosenza, Italy in 1968, she later spent her childhood living in Senegal, before continuing her studies in the Netherlands and at the Villa Arson in the South of France.

Jean Messagier French artist

Jean Messagier was a French painter, sculptor, printmaker and poet. Jean Messagier had his first solo exhibition in Paris at Galerie Arc-en-Ciel in 1947. From 1945 to 1949 the artist worked under the influence of Pablo Picasso, André Masson, Paul Klee and François Desnoyer, his professor at École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris. Messagier again was revealed to the public at an exhibition organized by Charles Estienne at the Galerie de Babylone in 1952, entitled "La Nouvelle École de Paris". The following year, Messagier deliberately broke away from his expressionistic form of Post-Cubism; his inspirations now focused on Jean Fautrier and Pierre Tal-Coat to develop a personal vision in which he renders "light...approached abstractly." Jean Messagier is often associated with Lyrical abstraction, Tachisme, Nuagisme, Art informel and paysagisme abstrait, though the artist himself had never accepted any labels, and had always refused the distinction between abstraction and figuration. From 1962 until the year of his death Jean Messagier exhibited in France and abroad, taking part in some major international events as a representative of new trends in French painting.

Didier Ottinger, born in Nancy in 1957, is a French museum curator, art critic and author. He is known for organizing exhibitions and publishing books on modern and contemporary painting. He is now assistant director of the Centre Pompidou at the Musée national d'art moderne in Paris.

Tania Mouraud French artist

Tania Mouraud,, is a contemporary French artist.

Jan Kopp is a German visual artist. He has lived in France since 1991.

Najia Mehadji Franco-Moroccan painter

Najia Mehadji is an artist of Franco-Moroccan heritage who lives and works between Paris, France and Essaouira, Morocco.

Hessie Cuban textile artist

Carmen Lydia Đurić, known by her artist name Hessie, was a Cuban textile artist who lived in France from 1962 until her death. Her creative work was mainly focused on embroidery using fabrics, although she also used the technique of collage with waste materials.

Jacques Hérold Romanian painter (1910-1987)

Jacques Hérold was a prominent surrealist painter born in Piatra Neamț, Romania.

Hervé Télémaque French painter

Hervé Télémaque, is a French painter of Haitian origin, associated with the surrealism and the narrative figuration movements. He has lived and worked in Paris since 1961.

Sylvie Blocher French video artist

Sylvie Blocher is a French artist.


  1. "Agnès Thurnauer". Centre Pompidou. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Palais de Tokyo (2006). Notre histoire : une scène artistique française émergente (in French). Paris: Paris Musées. p. 209. ISBN   2-87900-950-2.
  3. Dirié, Clément; Lebovici, Elisabeth; Sausset, Daniel (2008). Agnès Thurnauer, Now (in French). Blou: monografik éditions. pp. 162–185. ISBN   978-2-916545-56-1.
  4. Simons, Pauline (24 October 2009). "Les mandarins de l'art contemporain". Le Figaro (in French). ISSN   0182-5852 . Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  5. Boulbès, Carole (10 February 2012). "Portrait. Agnès Thurnauer". Critique d'art. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  6. de Chassey, Éric (1996). Agnès Thurnauer. Cachan: Maison d'Art contemporain Chailloux. pp. Foreword. ISBN   2-909686-10-8.
  7. Berrebi, Sophie (1998). Agnès Thurnauer. Edinburgh: Institut français d'Ecosse. p. 17.
  8. "Agnès Thurnauer, Portraits Grandeur Nature, 2007-2008". elles@centrepompidou. Centre Pompidou. 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  9. 1 2 "La Collection : Agnès Thurnauer ou "le surgissement de l'être peinture"". Arte. 16 August 2012. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  10. "Prédelle (Rainbow Elbow)". Centre Pompidou. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  11. Hindry, Ann (2009). "On the wings of painting". Musée d'Angers Press Release.
  12. Le Nouëne, Patrick (2009). "Brief introductory foreword to the Agnès Thurnauer exhibition embedded in the permanent collections of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Angers". Thurnauer à Angers. Translated by Elaine Briggs; Charles Penwarden. Angers: Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Angers. pp. 2–3. ISBN   978-2-35293-000-6.
  13. Jones, Sara (13 September 2013). "'Olympiad' celebrates modernist masterpieces". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  14. 1 2 McDonald, Amy Athey (10 September 2013). "Yale marks 150th anniversary of Manet's landmark paintings". YaleNews. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  15. Schoefer, Till (30 January 2015). "Jesus installs female portraits". Varsity. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  16. News, Cambridge (26 January 2015). "Esteemed men make way for women at Jesus College's Great Hall". Cambridge News. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  17. "You – an exhibition by Agnès Thurnauer". University of Cambridge, For staff. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  18. "Exposition " Agnès Thurnauer : Le pays et la langue " à Kunsthalle LAB — Institut Français de Slovaquie". (in French). Archived from the original on 2017-11-07. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  19. Duverger, Sylvia (October 22, 2012). "Exposition roman psychanalytique The Hidden Mother à l'atelier Rouart, 12 octobre-17 novembre 2012". Féministes en tous genres. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018.
  20. Hindry, Ann (June 2014). "Nantes, Bayeux, Paris: Agnès Thurnauer" (PDF). Artpress (412). ISSN   0245-5676. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  21. 1 2 Pires do Vale, Paulo (2016). Agnès Thurnauer: The place is the word, the word is the place. Ivry-sur-Seine: Galerie Fernand Leger. pp. 27–29.
  22. 1 2 Bellet, Harry (30 April 2014). "Agnès Thurnauer arpente le langage de la peinture". Le Monde. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  23. Wajcman, Gérard; Domino, Christophe (2001). Agnès Thurnauer: Pour en venir au monde (in French). Ivry-sur-Seine: Le CREDAC. ISBN   9782907643948.
  24. "Bien faite, mal faite, pas faite (well done, badly done, not done) Project XX Story for the S.M.A.K." S.M.A.K. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  25. "Agnès Thurnauer". CCC (in French). Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  26. "Les Femmes au Musée" (PDF). Angers (in French). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  27. "Rétrospective". Emerige (in French). Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  28. Couturier, Elisabeth (January 2012). "Agnès Thurnauer, Manifestement" (PDF). Artpress (in French) (385). ISSN   0245-5676 . Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  29. "Sujet, verbe, et compléments". immanence (in French). Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  30. "Agnès Thurnauer " Figure libre "" (PDF). Le Radar (in French). Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  31. "Now when then, de Tintoret à Tuymans". Musée de Beaux-Arts de Nantes (in French). Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  32. "Press release: Agnès Thurnauer Solo Show" (PDF). Galerie de Roussan. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  33. "Female portraits oust men in Jesus College | University of Cambridge". University of Cambridge. 2016-03-03. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  34. "Agnès Thurnauer". Biennale de Lyon 2005 (in French). Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  35. "Agnès Thurnauer". elles@centrepompidou. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  36. "Agnès Thurnauer, Drawing Now Paris, galerie de Roussan, Carrousel du Louvre, du 11 au 14/04/13". ouvretesyeux (in French). 9 April 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  37. Costa, Juliana. "Uma exposição só delas". contramão (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 2015-04-02.
  38. "Montagem Exposição Elles - Pompidou". CCBB Rio de Janeiro's Page (in Portuguese). 23 May 2013. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  39. ""G I R L" curated by Pharrell Williams". Galerie Perrotin. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  40. "Galerie Valérie Bach, Bruxelles, Belgique". Drawing Now Paris. Archived from the original on 2015-03-29. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  41. "A Bitter Sweet Legacy" (PDF). Galerie de Roussan. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  42. "Cet obscur objet de désirs. L'Origine du monde". maCommune (in French). 25 August 2014. Archived from the original on 9 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.