Monday, June 29, 2009

Cash Brown Courbet

L'Origine Du Monde is one of Courbet's most famous paintings. When painted 143 years ago, it was - perhaps not suprisingly - banned from public exhibition. Though there is a tendency to think that what was then was then, and that today we live in a much freer society, a society far more open minded to matters as seemingly trivial as depictions of the human body.
Though it seems that Sydney Olympic Park Authority will have none of this lewdness and have similarly censored an appropriation of Courbet's work by Sydney artist Cash Brown, deciding to display it "behind a curtain with a viewer advisory warning and eliminating it from the exhibition catalogue". (see also; Tea Tree Gully Council's decision to ban a nude painting and sculpted bust last year).

The only online source i could find for this story was the Brisbane times which unfortunatly does not have an image of the offending work, titled Fuck LeWitt. Though luckily Brown's mural seems to follow a series of approriations of Courbet's work; images which are available on her wesbite.
Perhaps Brown would have had more luck if she had instead submitted her work Monochrome (2008) to the exhibition.

As well as being an artist Courbet was an Anarchist, and fittingly, he was one of the founders of
Fédération des artistes, a federation of mostly realist artists that aimed to support the free and uncensored exhibition of art. Courbet was one of the more publicly known French artists in the second half of the 19th century, and Napolean attempted to use Courbet's popularity to increase his own appeal by nominating Courbet to the Legion of Honour, however Courbet adamantly refused. Courbet was active within the Paris Commune and argued for the destruction of the Vendome Column;

"Inasmuch as the Vendôme column is a monument devoid of all artistic value, tending to perpetuate by its expression the ideas of war and conquest of the past imperial dynasty, which are reproved by a republican nation's sentiment, citizen Courbet expresses the wish that the National Defense government will authorise him to disassemble this column."
When the scum eventually returned to power Courbet was charged and ordered to pay for the rebuilding of the monument. Instead he left for Switzerland and died the day before his first payment was due.