Pharrell + Terry Richardson: All About the GIRL?

Portrait of Pharrell and Helen – Dance, 2014, by Takashi Murakami, acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board (Photo by Terry Richardson)

Galerie Perrotin celebrates the launch of its new space in Paris’ Marais with an inaugural exhibition curated by Pharrell titled “G I R L.” The multi-talented musician is no stranger to the art world. He co-curated “This Is Not A Toy” at Toronto’s Design Exchange earlier this spring, but “G I R L” marks his gallery debut. He first met gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin in Miami back in 2007 and the two quickly became fast friends, sharing an appreciation for artists like Takashi Murakami, Daniel Arsham, and KAWS.

It’s no surprise that all three artists happen to be featured in the show, along with 34 other international artists, about half of whom are women. This ratio is at most satisfactory for an exhibition that “[aims] to celebrate women who are above all free, liberated by artists and their boundless, unfettered imagination.” Marina Abramovic, Guerrilla Girls, Yoko Ono, Annette Messager, and Cindy Sherman all contributed artworks.

However, the inclusion of a Terry Richardson photograph of a woman scrawled with the words “Eat Me” below her waist has drawn criticism. Considering the myriad of sexual harassment complaints against the photographer, the addition of Richardson is the show’s most blatant pitfall.

As the name implies, the exhibition draws inspiration from Pharrell’s latest album. Emmanuel Perrotin saw potential for a fruitful collaboration last year. “After the launch party for my new gallery in New York in late 2013, Pharrell took a few of us to listen to the first 5 tracks of his upcoming album G I R L. The songs put us in such a good mood that we danced to all of them. At this moment, we realized that this tribute to women was going to be a worldwide success and would represent a shift in his career. Pharrell made us feel like we were part of it. This project at the gallery in Paris is a natural continuation of this adventure,” he says.

The site of the exhibition is the only detail that remedies the show’s lazy feminism. Galerie Perrotin’s new Salle de Bal space was formerly a 17th century Hôtel Particulier ballroom. In light of this context, works from artists like the Guerrilla Girls collective radically transform the deeply gendered space. Politics aside, “G I R L” reaffirms Pharrell’s status at the top of the cultural totem. The exhibition’s poor execution reveals just how unwieldy such a position can be.

“G I R L” is on view now at Salle de Bal, Galerie Perrotin, Paris though June 25, 2014. Can’t make it to Paris to see the exhibition in person? View works from “G I R L” in the slideshow below.

[promoslider height=”600px”  slider=”g-i-r-l-curated-by-pharrell-williams”]

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