Press Release

First U.S. Retrospective of Artist and Designer Nathalie Du Pasquier at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania This Fall

Philadelphia, PA
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Exhibition Surveys More Than Three Decades of Work by Du Pasquier, Painter and Founding Member of Design Collective Memphis, Providing Unique Insight into Artist’s Practice Across Media

Opening September 13, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania (ICA) in Philadelphia will present Nathalie Du Pasquier: BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT, a retrospective exploring the prolific creative practice of artist and designer Nathalie Du Pasquier. A founding member of the Italian design collective Memphis, Du Pasquier’s work across painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, and design demonstrates a unique and considered interpretation of space and objects. The exhibition at ICA is co-curated by Alex Klein, the Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE ’60) Curator at ICA; and Luca Lo Pinto, curator at Kunsthalle Wien in Austria, where the first iteration of the retrospective was initially conceived and presented by Lo Pinto last fall. Featuring more than 100 works spanning from the early 1980s to the present, including a number of new and never-before-seen pieces, the exhibition juxtaposes graphic patterns with abstracted, figurative paintings, creating a fully immersive environment that underscores the artist’s systematic dismantling of the hierarchy between design and fine art, and between three-dimensional form and two-dimensional representation.

On view through December 23, Nathalie Du Pasquier: BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT will provide an all-encompassing experience of Du Pasquier’s aesthetic, organized in close coordination with the artist to demonstrate the seamless boundaries between functional and decorative objects in Du Pasquier’s practice. Across the space, still-life paintings depicting everyday objects and formal explorations will be installed against a backdrop of Du Pasquier’s wallpaper designs, juxtaposed with the sculptures, textiles, and design objects that inspire her work in painting and illuminate her iterative process of creation. 

“We are thrilled to present the first comprehensive international survey of Nathalie Du Pasquier’s work in the United States at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania,” commented exhibition curator Alex Klein. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to work closely both with Nathalie herself and Luca Lo Pinto at Kunsthalle Wien to highlight the innovative, dynamic, and prolific oeuvre of an artist whose work continues to grow in its influence across creative fields through both direct collaborations and through other artists inspired by her practice. The exhibition design, as envisioned by Nathalie, erases notions of hierarchy, disciplinary boundaries, and periodicity in a manner that is truly reflective of her ethos as an artist.”

"This exhibition will provide audiences in the United States with a great opportunity to discover the unique imaginary and distinctive style of Nathalie du Pasquier. Over the last 35 years, her work in the fields of fine arts, design, and craft have continually broken the rules and ruptured the confines of genre,” remarked exhibition curator Luca Lo Pinto. “Nathalie Du Pasquier: BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT, which was first presented in Vienna and will now be shown this fall in Philadelphia with a different configuration, has been conceived as a gesamtkunstwerk, following her ability to play with complex arrangements of forms, the expressive and emotive relations between things, and the space between objects and their representation."

As conceived by Du Pasquier, the exhibition is installed as a kind of city, within which the different rooms can be seen as buildings that focus on different aspects of her thinking and creative process. Throughout the exhibition, pieces from decidedly different periods of Du Pasquier’s artistic production are experienced in a singular installation created by the artist. Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Paintings: Since 1987 painting has been the main focus of Du Pasquier’s practice. The early works demonstrate a more surreal and fantastic figurative style that has evolved into a rigorous investigation of the objects that populate the artist’s everyday experience. Over the years Du Pasquier has developed a unique formal language in which her abstract paintings play off of her sensitive consideration of bottles, glassware, and other materials of domestic life.
  • Drawings: A range of drawings segue between the language of architecture, design, and sketches of her recognizable forms. Of note are designs for some of her iconic textiles patterns.
  • Sculptures: The bottles that populate Du Pasquier’s paintings are also interpreted as brightly colored porcelain sculptures that seem to defy their delicate nature and quotidian function. Likewise, her formal explorations become large-scale rough constructions. 
  • Design Objects: In recent years, Du Pasquier has occasionally produced patterns—sometimes in collaboration with her partner, the industrial designer George Sowden. The exhibition will feature some of her recent wallpaper patterns, which connect back in spirit with the textile works of her Memphis period. Although Du Pasquier has moved away from being a full-time designer, her early involvement with the Italian design group, Memphis, continues to inspire. In addition to Memphis carpets and textile patterns designed by Du Pasquier, the exhibition will feature a rare and important piece of furniture sculpture, Emerald (1985).
  • Installation: In recent years, Du Pasquier has explored installation. The show will feature a new monochrome installation with a collaborative sound work produced with the musician Steve Piccolo and recorded in the artist’s studio.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue co-produced by ICA and Kunsthalle Wien, which is published by Sternberg Press and features an extensive conversation with Nathalie Du Pasquier and curator Luca Lo Pinto, as well as short essays by Andrew Ayers, Dafne Boggeri, Barbara Radice, Steve Piccolo, and Lodovico Pignatti Morano. 

Support for this exhibition has been provided by 4Spaces Textiles Zurich Switzerland, Dorothy & Martin Bandier, Charles X Block, Cheri & Steven Friedman, Christina Weiss Lurie, Amanda & Andrew Megibow, and Stephanie & David Simon.

*as of June 20, 2017

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Nathalie Du Pasquier, Con la foglia di magnolia, 2005-2006, Courtesy of Kunsthalle Wien and the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania

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