Nina Childress: ‘Le tombeau de Simone De Beauvoir’

17/01/2023

As part of the ‘Héroïnes’ season at the City of Rouen, Nina Childress (b.1961) has dedicated an entire room at the Musée des Beaux-Arts to her installation: ‘LE TOMBEAU DE SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR’ (or ‘The Tomb of Simone de Beauvoir’). 

Conceived in 2008 – 09, and loaned by Laurent Dumas (Villa Emerige, Paris), this poignant installation – previously shown at the FRAC, Limousin and the MAMCO, Geneva – was recreated with the help of Florence Calame, curator at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and the Bernard Jordan Gallery. This set of paintings and sculptures pay homage to Simone de Beauvoir, the GREAT French feminist activist, writer and philosopher.

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Childress first had the idea to make ‘Le Tombeau de Simone de Beauvoir’ when she came across the famous photograph of Simone naked in a bathroom, taken by her lover, the American photographer Art Shay, in 1952, which was reproduced on the front cover of the French magazine Nouvel Obs.  

Simone-de-Beauvoir-Observateur

Struck by the beautiful, youthful beauty of Simone, Childress (below) set about creating paintings, a wallpaper design as well as various objects and sculptures, each artwork reflecting different aspects of Simone’s extraordinary life. Motifs such as a glass of whisky, a pile of cigarettes on a podium, images of books and her signature turban all brilliantly conjure up the Simone de Beauvoir of popular imagination: the glamorously intellectual, chain-smoking, heavy drinking and turbaned foremother of contemporary feminism!

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A beautiful, printed wallpaper, based on the pattern of one of Simone’s favourite shirts, provides a perfect foil to the whole exhibition.

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The exhibition is at the Musée des Beaux-Art in Rouen and runs until November 22nd.

To see more artworks by Nina Childress, check out her website!