A woman’s right to pleasure: the LA exhibition rewriting the history of female sexuality
Artists including Nan Goldin, Tracey Emin and Reka Nyari take part in ‘BlackBook Presents: A Woman’s Right to Pleasure’ at Sotheby’s LA
Left, Reka Nyari, Pussy, signed and numbered 1/7, chromatic print on silver paper. Executed in 2012, this work is number 1 from an edition of 7. Provenance: the artist. Right, Penny Slinger, Homage to Lawrence Durrell, painted wax life cast, in 2 parts. Executed in 1973. Provenance: the artist
A playful and provocative look at female sexuality is the focus of a Sotheby’s selling exhibition. ‘A Woman’s Right to Pleasure’, created in collaboration with BlackBook and inspired by the tome of the same name, traces female experience over the last century in a reframing of traditional narratives.
Sexuality is viewed through the lens of female artists, with works from the likes of Nan Goldin, Penny Slinger, Reka Nyari, Tracey Emin, Judy Chicago, Jenny Holzer, Marilyn Minter, Betty Tompkins, Alexandra Rubinstein and Louise Bourgeois presenting women’s sexuality through a plethora of mediums. Artworks, encompassing prints, photography, oil paintings and neon, riff on both traditional and contemporary multimedia.
Pieces consider both classical motifs and cheeky double entendres, from Reka Nyari’s Pussy print, which intertwines the linguistic and the sexual, to Penny Slinger’s rethinking of everyday motifs. With a slight shift in perspective, domestic objects – long symbols of women’s repression – become markers for female pleasure.
Judy Chicago celebrates the tactility of unexpected materials with Submerged/Emerged #1, which draws sensual silhouettes in acrylic spray on pressed and moulded cast paper, while Sophia Wallace’s Άδάμας (Unconquerable) is a sculptural celebration of femininity in wood, fibreglass, steel and enamel.
Jewellery is also included, with Indian brand Studio Renn presenting six pieces from the ‘Seed-Leaf’ collection, which will debut at the exhibition, representing the cyclical nature of fertility and abundance in gold and precious stones.
The book that lends its name to the exhibition was released in 2020, and featured artists’ works alongside essays from Erica Jong and Roxane Gay. There is photography by both established and emerging names, including Cindy Sherman, Marilyn Minter, Carrie Mae Weems, Harley Weir, Mickalene Thomas and Martine Gutierrez, while written contributions from Erika Lust, Stoya, Alice Little, Vaginal Davis, Naana Otoo-Oyortey, Dani Lessnau, Natasha Stagg and Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova muse on the links between pleasure and empowerment.
Nan Goldin, Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City. Signed, titled, dated and numbered AP4 in ink on an accompanying label cibachrome print, flush-mounted. Executed in 1983. Provenance: the artist
Louise Bourgeois, House Struck By a Lightning Bolt. Signed with the artist’s initials; titled and variously inscribed on the reverse. Ink, graphite, whiteout and gouache on paper. Executed in 1998. Provenace: acquired by the present owner at Wright Auction, Chicago, April 27, 2010
‘BlackBook Presents: A Woman’s Right to Pleasure’, 8 July – 12 August, Sotheby’s LA
Hannah Silver joined Wallpaper* in 2019 to work on watches and jewellery. Now, as well as her role as watches and jewellery editor, she writes widely across all areas including on art, architecture, fashion and design. As well as offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, Hannah is interested in the quirks of what makes for a digital success story.
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