In 1936, Marie Laurencin painted "La Répétition". At first glance, it looks like a conventional genre scene. A group of young women is assembled; one is holding a song booklet, another a guitar for the music, and another is starting to dance, while the final two are watching.
Without appearing to be, this painting is nothing less than a reformulation of Pablo Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", one of the pioneering works of modernism: the same curtain opened by one of the models, the same number of female figures in a pyramidal composition, the same chromatic rhythms - a dog replacing a still life in the foreground. However, far from multiplying heterogeneities, the entire painting is marked by a principle of repetition. Repetition is not only the subject of the painting (a repetition as is necessary for a successful performance), it is also its method, embodied by the fact that all the faces are identical - a redoubling within the redoubling.
The history of Western art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is marked by the figure of invention, a visible synonym for creative freedom, which allows it to assert its autonomy in relation to utilitarian, decorative or ornamental practices, where, since the earliest times of humanity, motifs and figures have been repeated, as shown in religious imagery as well as in wallpaper or fabric prints.
However, many artists, including some of the best, have adopted repetition as a method and as an object, finding in it a method or a subject in some pieces of their art or even using it systematically.
The collections of our museums are generally based on the search for masterpieces, those exceptional moments, seemingly in one piece, where all the artists' means converge, a principle that the inaugural exhibition of the Centre Pompidou-Metz, "Masterpieces?", questioned in 2010-2011. To show how creation can also proceed by repetition, whether it is a means, a process or the very subject of the artists, is to go against this simplistic notion. This exhibition attempts to do just that, through a subjective choice from the collections of the Musée national d'art moderne - Centre Pompidou, enriched by a selection of major complementary works, cutting through the stylistic, iconographic, sociological and chronological classifications that usually organise their presentation.