The visionary creator of La Pointe Courte (1954), Varda is celebrated as the mother of the French New Wave. Films such as Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961), Vagabond (1984), Jacquot de Nantes (1991), and The Gleaners and I (2000) have won her global critical acclaim. In 2003 she transformed, in her own words, from being an “old filmmaker to a young visual artist,” creating sculptures and installations that play with the representation of time, space, and reality.
This exhibition, the artist’s first in Tokyo, centers on Bord de mer (2009), a video installation which portrays three distinct dimensions of time — past, permanent, and present. A still image projected onto a vertical screen reveals a view of the ocean; on a sloped platform below, moving footage shows a wave rolling and dissolving into the shoreline; finally, this platform merges with a small beach of sand at the viewer’s feet.
Also on view are seven vintage photographic prints from the 1950s and 1960s — intimate depictions of cats (a recurring motif in her work) in a variety of European street scenes. Early black & white photographs such as these were stylistic precursors to her unprecedented film works to come. Though she soon became known more in cinematic circles, photography has been deeply intertwined her filmmaking and visual art practice, as in Bord de mer.
Agnès Varda lives and works in Paris, France. Recent awards include the Academy Honorary Award (2017), the Palme d’Or d’Honneur at the Cannes Film Festival (2015), and the Pardo d’onore Swisscom at the Locarno Film Festival (2014). Her visual art has been the subject of institutional solo exhibitions at Musée d’Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium (2016); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2016); Reva and Logan Center Exhibitions, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2015); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2014); Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, Spain (2013); CAFA Museum, Beijing, China (2012); Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2009); Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (2009); Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, France (2006); and the Utopia Station, 50th Venice Biennale (2003). Her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, France; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.