“Their bodies turned to stone; the three most distant sisters formed the Îles d’Or." This French legend of petrified and thus immortalized sisters frames The Infinite Woman, one of the latest showings at Porquerolles Island’s Villa Carmignac. Like the mansion itself – outfitted with yawning windows, rolling gardens, and an infinity pool – the exhibit is sprawling. Curator Alona Pardo explores the various artistic presentations of the feminine, featuring over eighty works and sixty artists. On view until November 3rd, The Infinite Woman is a comprehensive study of the enigmatic polymorphism of women in art.
The curator cites Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna and Child as a clear point of inspiration. Artists’ reduction of female figures to either the “sexless and obedient” Madonna or the sensual, manipulative Eve is the central force that propelled Pardo to begin work on this project. Binary representation, established long before Botticelli’s time, is effectively dismantled in this exhibit, which seeks to “rethink the concept of woman altogether.”
Pardo traces the progression of women’s presence in art across centuries and continents, and frequently puts these artworks from different contexts in conversation with each other. For instance, placing Pablo Picasso’s La Femme Nue Couchée avec un Chat next to the works of Marlene Dumas or Michael Armitage invites us to reflect on how the nude female body has evolved from merely an erotic symbol to a versatile aesthetic form that can take on any and all meaning. 
Furthermore, The Infinite Woman highlights textiles, embroidery, and ceramics, long dismissed as insignificant ‘women’s work’ compared to the grand brushstrokes of male artists. Judy Chicago’s needlepoint work of birthing scenes and Paloma Proudfoot’s ceramics of friends getting dressed are particularly salient examples of the echo between overlooked art forms and underrepresented scenes of women’s lives. 
However, Pardo isn’t crippled by her political message, and nimbly integrates humorous and time-bending elements in the exhibit. Tom Freedman’s Peeing Figure and Ugo Rondinone’s caricature heads, both silvery sculptures in the garden, provide a playful tonal and aesthetic shift from the pieces featured inside the house. The curator also features works that mold time, like Sin Wai Kin’s combination of ancient Chinese dramaturgy and drag culture, or Camille Henrot’s overlaying of overt sexuality with Greek mythology. 
But perhaps the most integral part of the exhibit is the water ceiling. Louise Bourgeoise’s heavy, entirely metal Spider is surrounded by France-Lise McGurn’s contrastingly agile dancing figures. Both are staged under continuously flowing water overhead: a stunningly poetic representation of the wide-ranging and ever-changing female presence in art—in short, the essence of The Infinite Woman itself.
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Andra Ursuţa, Predators ‘R Us, 2020, © Andra Ursuţa. Courtesy of the artist, David Zwirner, and Ramiken, New York - Photo: Sebastian Bach
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France-Lise McGurn, 2024 - Photo: JUDDartINDEX - Commissioned for the Fondation Carmignac for the exhibition The Infinite Woman
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Laure Prouvost, Holding as one stain glass fragments. Galerie Nathalie Obadia
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Mary Beth Edelson, Selected Wall Collages, 1972-2011 © Tate: Purchased using funds provided by the 2017 Frieze Tate Fund supported by WME | IMG 2018. Courtesy of David Lewis Gallery, New York - Photo © Tate
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Michael Armitage, #mydressmychoice, 2015 © Michael Armitage - Photo: White Cube (George Darrell)
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Sin Wai Kin, A Dream of Wholeness in Parts (still), 2021 - Produced by Chi-Wen Productions, Taipei. S © Sin Wai Kin. Courtesy the artist, Chi-Wen Gallery, Taipei and Soft Opening, London. Supported by Hayward Gallery Touring for British Art Show 9.