The title of this summer exhibition refers to the story of Pope Joan, an incredible medieval legend predating the arrival of the popes in Avignon. In the ninth century, a charismatic scholar from the other side of the Rhine was elected pope and reigned as such until it was discovered that the representative of God on earth was pregnant. During a public procession, the child was born prematurely. Pope Joan and her child died in the ancient St Peter’s Square in Rome. The story took hold of the medieval imagination, mainly spread through Boccacio’s De mulieribus claris (On Famous Women): even today, at the end of the conclave at the Vatican, a pierced chair allows verification of the sex of the newly elected pope, so as to avoid again appointing a popess.
It was under the aegis of this iconic figure that five women artists were selected, like Popesses of modern and contemporary art: Camille Claudel, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Jana Sterbak and Berlinde De Bruyckere.
Works in the exhibition will interact, from one place to another (the monumental works at the Palais des Papes, small sculptures and works on paper at the Collection Lambert), weaving together aesthetic and thematic links: the filiation father/mother/child, dear to Camille Claudel, Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith, the body in transformation – Berlinde De Bruyckere, Kiki Smith – medieval alchemy between beings and planets – Jana Sterbak, Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois.
All five take up the tradition of sculpture, often said to be the most difficult of practices (the most traditional – marble, terracotta, plaster, bronze, wax and contemporary – sewn fabrics, glass, ceramic, papier mâché, etc.).
Collection Lambert Website