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Originally published September 12, 2012 at 5:31 AM | Page modified September 14, 2012 at 11:48 AM

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All eyes on SAM's 'Elles'

The Seattle Art Museum's "Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris" leads the fall visual-arts lineup.

Seattle Times arts writer

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The biggest visual-arts news in Seattle this fall has to be "Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris," opening at the downtown Seattle Art Museum on Oct. 11.

This survey of work by 75 female artists over a period of almost 100 years (1909 to 2007) includes photography by Gisèle Freund, Diane Arbus, Lisette Model, Berenice Abbott and Cindy Sherman; paintings by Frida Kahlo, Suzanne Valadon, Natalia Goncharova and Romaine Brooks; sculpture by Louise Bourgeois and Louise Nevelson; and installations and video by contemporary artists whose work may be edgier than you're used to seeing at SAM.

"Elles" is billed as "a fresh perspective on a history of modern and contemporary art," marked by "humor, disdain, sensuality and ambiguity." The photographic component — from Freund's 1939 shot of a gaunt, abstracted Virginia Woolf to one of Sherman's most elaborately self-disguising self-portraits — looks especially strong.

SAM is supplementing the show with items from its own holdings and those of local collectors, including work by Imogen Cunningham, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Local galleries have some eye-catching shows too, especially in photography. "Hector Acebes: Africa 1948-1953," at G. Gibson Gallery, and Dan Carrillo's "Ambrotypes," at Greg Kucera, look like particularly worthy contenders. Both run through Sept. 29.

One wild-card possibility that's caught my eye is Megan Harmon's "A Collection of New Work," opening at Form/Space Atelier Oct. 12. Harmon's website (meganharmon.dphoto.com) reveals a curious mind at play, whether she's making sculptures from shredded money (bought cheaply on eBay or from the Bureau of Printing and Engraving in Washington, D.C.) or assembling photo-strips or diptychs.

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com

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