Artist and Protestors Tag Gustave Courbet’s ‘Origin of the World’ with the Words ‘Me Too’

Gustave Courbet’s infamous nude painting L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World) was targeted over the weekend by protesters who tagged it with the words “Me Too.” 

The 1886 painting is on display at the Centre Pompidou-Metz in northern France in the show “Lacan, The Exhibition: When Art Meets Pscyhoanalysis” (through May 27), which examines theories of the unconscious proposed by the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who once owned L’Origine du monde. The work is on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. A spokesperson for the Centre Pompidou-Metz confirmed that, including the Courbet, five works in total in the show were defaced with the slogan “Me Too”. An embroidered piece by the French artist Annette Messager, titled I Think Therefore I Suck (1991), was also taken from the museum.

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The Luxembourg-born artist Deborah De Robertis claimed responsibility for the vandalism and theft in a video posted to Vimeo, titled On ne sépare pas la femme de l’artiste (“the woman cannot be separated from the artist”). In a statement, the artist said the protest intended to expose “misogynistic divide” in the art world. The video shows two women writing on the paintings the slogan “Me Too” popularized by the eponymous social movement that emerged in 2017 in response to a slew of high-profile cases of sexual assault and harassment. Among the works tagged in the museum is De Robertis’s own photograph Mirror of Origin

In the video, protesters chant “Me Too” before they are removed from the premises by security staff. According to the Art Newspaper, the mayor of Metz, Francois Grosdidier, called the protest “a new attack on culture, this time by fanatic feminists”. Metz police have not said if the protesters have been charged.

This is not the first feminist protest staged by De Robertis at a museum, or even the first targeting of Courbet. In 2014, she exposed her vulva in front of Origin of the World at the Musee d’Orsay, and two years later, she returned to the museum to strip off her clothes—save for a portable video camera tied around her neck—and lay on the floor in front of Edouard Manet’s nude painting Olympia (1863). The latter protest led to a charge of public indecency and nearly two days detained in a jail cell.

She said in her statement: “I call on all women, with or without vulvas, all intersex, trans and non-binary people, and all underrepresented people—whether artists, assistants or interns in the art world—to dare to express yourself.” 

Source: artnews.com

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