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June 9 - July 22, 2023

Let us be honest: we have all been caught out once before, the first time we came across a hyper-realistic sculpture in an exhibition. Even a regular visitor to galleries and museums of contemporary art may have felt this mental jolt when he or she spotted a tourist in a brightly coloured shirt by Duane Hanson or a completely naked young woman by John DeAndrea from a distance; the truthfulness of these figures, their incongruity, tore apart the peaceful atmosphere of the exhibition space. Thus, in 1972, visitors to Documenta were shocked by Arden Anderson and Nora Murphy (1972), looking at them as two lovers lying embraced, caught just after, or just before, love. Of course, todayʼs art lovers are no longer shocked, but they nonetheless continue to feel a hint of embarrassment. Doesnʼt the warm presence of the model impose itself on their imagination like a perspiration from her bronze effigy?
The artist, who it must be said is as much a painter as a sculptor, has devoted hours and hours of work to the hallucinatory precision of the skin tone, its transparency, the touch of the most delicate vein, the most minute beauty spot, pimple or blemish.
A few centimetres away from a life-size naked body, whose skin texture is so perceptible that you think you can see it shiver, you keep your hands in your pockets. In that moment, deep inside us, we feel the return of
what Klossowski calls the « high-schooler point of view ». I would add this circumstantial remark: I am certain that the amateur feels this nudity more keenly than a « militant » of todayʼs fashionable neo-puritanism who would come to denounce some indecency or exploitation of the female body, his gaze obeying not so much his sensitivity as his ideology.
[Almost all the sculptures in this exhibition – all from 2022 – show women in very unexpressive positions. They are pensive, at rest. Adam and Eve themselves look more resigned than affected by being cast out of Paradise. It seems that these sculptures bring into the place of inhibition all the restraint, the concentration, the libidinal indifference that prevails in an academic studio, precisely where DeAndrea says she discovered her true calling.
Catherine Millet, John DeAndrea’s Les belles indifférentes (extracts), published in Grace, a monograph on John DeAndrea

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