Beginning August 25, the exhibition The Great Mother will feature works by 127 international artists and span two centuries to include the “Venuses of the Stone Age to the ‘bad girls’ of the post-feminist era.” Part of the renowned 2015 Milan Expo in Città, this show will bring together a wide array of pieces that explore not only motherhood, but the progression of women’s rights throughout history.
“The Great Mother can and should be an important opportunity to reflect on the values that women bring into every sector of society,” said Beatrice Trussardi, the president of Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, an organization sponsoring the show. The aim is to celebrate and “underscore the central role of women in society,” while acknowledging the “many dangers that threaten to check or block the path to liberation.”
From Surrealists including Salvador Dali and Hannah Hoch, to feminists of the 1970s, including Clarla Accardi and Yoko Ono, The Great Mother presents a dizzying array of artists, genres and mediums through which to analyze women’s role as creator. The exhibit was curated by Massimiliano Gioni, the Artistic Director to both the New Museum in New York and the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi in Milan. He is renowned for his mastery in large-scale installation narratives, particularly his critically acclaimed curation of the 55th Venice Biennale.
While the roster of the 127 artists is impressive, there are a few stand out pieces that approach motherhood from alternative angles…
Catherine Opie explores non-traditional motherhood and parenthood in communities of non gender conforming people. Opie traces how non-binary folk inhabit the role of “mother,” conventionally reserved for cis women.
Dorothy Iannone eroticizes the mother figure by rendering the female body as simultaneously sexual and maternal in “Suck my breast I am your most beautiful mother,” 1970-1971. Her work depicts women in powerful stances claiming ownership over their sexuality in what she describes as scenes of “ecstatic unity.”
Pawel Althamer’s sculpture of a crouched fetus with a bloated adult head offers a perspective from the other side of motherhood: the child. Althamer captures the vulnerability of a newborn child and its need for nurturing.
This exhibition will run until November 15 at the Palazzo Raele, in Milan.