Spotlight: A Paris Exhibition Brings to Light Rarely Seen Works by French Artist Gina Pane, a Pioneer of ‘Body Art’

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About the Artist: An influential figure within (body art), French artist Gina Pane (1939–1990) has an oeuvre marked by avant-garde experimentation, that could be described as a continuous exploration of the boundaries of art. Early in her career, Pane enrolled at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris, studied lithography, and later took courses at Edmée Larnaudie’s Atelier d’art sacré in the early 1960s. In parallel to her training and personal practice, between 1976 and 1989, the artist taught painting at the École supérieure des beaux-arts du Mans. Pane’s work on canvas and paper from the 1960s specifically illustrate her deep understanding of and deft employment of abstraction, composition, and space. Beginning in the 1970s, Pane became a central figure of the body art movement, effecting “actions” comprised of physical and psychological ordeals observed by a powerless audience. Her innovative, body-oriented practice solidified her place within the art historical canon and her work has been a significant source of inspiration for both her contemporaries and artists today.

What You Need to Know: Mennour gallery in Paris is currently presenting “Gina Pane: Préliminaire,” the artists fifth exhibition with the gallery. Centered on Pane’s work completed while a student in Paris through to 1969–70, the show highlights the formative and in many ways informative work she did leading up to her transition to performance. Though Pane largely turned away from traditional modes of art making following her entrance into body-oriented action art, the significance of her paintings and works on paper cannot be understated. On view through June 3, 2023, at Mennour’s 47 Rue Saint-André-des-Arts location, the show is comprised of paintings, lithographs, and preparatory sketches. The influence of contemporaneous styles and movements can be easily seen throughout the show, ranging from geometric abstraction, Suprematism, and Russian Constructivism. Line, shape, and above all color emphasize Pane’s superior grasp on the formal elements of art making, while the diversity of composition across the show illustrate her early penchant for experimentation. In creating the exhibition, Mennour undertook a significant restoration of the works, preserving and presenting them at the highest and most befitting degree.

According to the Gallery: “Since the gallery has started to represent artists’ estates, Mennour has dedicated substantial resources to the preservation and technical study of their works, whether they are sculptures, installations, photography, or paintings such as Gina Pane’s. The gallery relies on a bunch of trusted experts, from conservation scientists to restoration specialists as well as ensemble of craftsmen taking care of high standard storage and travel mounts.

On Gina Pane’s case, we have expressly restored a series of works to be presented in the exhibition. Going through the process of consolidation the conservators have revealed the constitutive aspect of the artist’s experimental practice (type of painting she used and canvas’ fabric), and how—even if they are works in two-dimensions—her paintings were an attempt to build geometrical forms into a space.”—Emma-Charlotte Gobry-Laurencin, exhibition curator

See featured works from the exhibition below.

Gina Pane, Untitled (n.d.). 57.28 x 44.8 x .79 in. (145.5 x 113.8 x 2 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, (n.d.). 57.28 x 44.8 x .79 in. (145.5 x 113.8 x 2 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, Untitled (n.d.). 31.89 x 25.59 x .79 in (81 x 65 x 2 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, (n.d.). 31.89 x 25.59 x .79 in (81 x 65 x 2 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, Untitled (n.d.). 39.25 x 28.74 x .79 in. (99.7 x 73 x 2 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, (n.d.). 39.25 x 28.74 x .79 in. (99.7 x 73 x 2 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, Untitled (n.d.). 39.37 x 32.01 x .79 in. (100 x 81.3 x 2 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, (n.d.). 39.37 x 32.01 x .79 in. (100 x 81.3 x 2 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, Untitled (1970). 25.59 x 19.69 in. (65 x 50 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, (1970). 25.59 x 19.69 in. (65 x 50 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, Untitled (1968). 25.59 x 19.69 in. (65 x 50 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

Gina Pane, (1968). 25.59 x 19.69 in. (65 x 50 cm). Courtesy of Mennour, Paris.

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