Complaint from the Musée d’Orsay after Courbet’s “The Origin of the World” tag

Complaint from the Musée d’Orsay after Courbet’s “The Origin of the World” tag
Complaint from the Musée d’Orsay after Courbet’s “The Origin of the World” tag

The Orsay Museum announced to AFP on Friday that it had filed a complaint after the tagging of the painting by Gustave Courbet entitled “The Origin of the World”, which must be restored, at the Center Pompidou-Metz (east) on Monday.

It was protected by a window on which two women tagged “MeToo”.

“Smeared with red paint, the work was taken down for examination by a qualified restorer. The frame received numerous paint splashes which could leave lasting marks even after restoration,” the museum said in a press release, indicating that it had “ filed a complaint”.

“Tests carried out to clean the protective glass have shown that the use of solvents will be necessary, altering its properties and leading to its replacement,” he said.

“All of these operations are delicate and must be prepared by a more in-depth analysis. Also, given the time required for the interventions, +The Origin of the World+ by Gustave Courbet cannot be hung up in the +Lacan exhibition, when art meets psychoanalysis+ before it closes on May 27,” added the museum.

Painted in 1866, this painting represents a woman’s genitals. Entering the collections of the Musée d’Orsay in 1995, it was loaned to the Center Pompidou-Metz as part of an exhibition dedicated to the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who was its last private owner.

Four other works were tagged with the words “MeToo”, one of which “could have been compromised in its integrity because not all of them were protected”, according to the public prosecutor in Metz. A red embroidery on fabric by Annette Messager, called “I think therefore I suck” (1991), was also stolen.

This “action”, organized by the Franco-Luxembourgish performance artist Deborah de Robertis, was called “We do not separate the woman from the artist”.

In this case, two women were indicted and placed under judicial supervision. A third person was not arrested.

“I obviously used a non-aggressive material that disappears with water. This way of demonizing, criminalizing and dramatizing the performance is a classic of the genre. Because the urgency for the museum, at this precise moment, is to “make the accusations made against the curator invisible”, the performer reacted to AFP on Friday.

She had previously denounced, in an open letter, the behavior of six men in the industry, calling them “calculators”, “predators” or “censors”.

A photo by Deborah de Robertis, called “Mirror of the Origin of the World”, was also exhibited near “The Origin of the World” for the Center Pompidou-Metz exhibition. We see the artist pose, naked, under Courbet’s work, a performance carried out on May 29, 2014 at the Musée d’Orsay.

Fined for stripping in front of the Lourdes cave in 2018, she has also been acquitted several times after similar actions, notably in 2017 for showing her genitals in front of “The Mona Lisa” at the Louvre museum in Paris.




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