L'Origine du Monde
Apparently Gustave Courbet's well known 1866 painting was meant to be viewed in a private setting of cigar smoking friends (my fantasy), considering the highly erotic subject matter. Only later, in 1995 it found its way into the Musée d' Orsay on view for the public. Theorists use it as an example to discern between 'nude' and 'naked' in art and the painting has also been the object of feminist interpretation, response, critique. There's the Deborah de Robertis 'Mirroir de l'Origine' series and 'L'Origine de la Guerre,' by Orlan. There's the activist-artist group Guerrilla Girls' poster campaign in 1984 aimed at New York’s Metropolitan Museum - 'Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?' - denouncing the amount of male-produced female nudes that were in the museum, as well as the museum’s role in continuing art’s gender disparity. In The Anatomy Lesson, I also play with the title of Courbet's painting. I use it to title my clay stamps, as they turned out to resemble the world map, and in the monochromatic 'Pre Existing Condition' diptych. I'm looking forward to how the two panels will look together once finished as mirrored companions. By its design I'm addressing the multiformity of the/a? female naked body, deconstructing it as shapes and shadows, making abstraction from the color of flesh, kaleidoscopically, a challenge of 'the (male) gaze'. My focus is on the woman's womb, I emphasise the swirly, flowery - ha! O'Keeffe - look of the grey shapes against the background. It's from that depth that the spiral shoots out, not from the vagina, with that stance challenging Courbet's 'L'Origine du Monde.' After all, all of us as fertilized eggs must attach to the lining of the uterus and not all fertilized eggs successfully implant. And even if they succesfully attach, they can be lost. With my diptych I'll complete the large sized paintings in my body of work 'The Anatomy Lesson' and finish the project this year. It's a feminist art project (as long as male artists are referred to as 'artists' and female artists as 'women artists,' I'll be making feminist art, just saying). The project is based on the 16th century textbook by Andreas Vesalius and focusses on the way women's bodies were and are still seen in art and science. I hope to release the works next year or mount an exhibit with them.
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