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Artist Deborah De Robertis Arrested for Posing Nude at Musee d’Orsay in Paris

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January 18, 2016
Web journalist, coffee junkie and art fanatic. Cares about the environment, writes for Widewalls. Alias of Milica Jovic

After exposing her vagina in front of the painting Origin of the World, performance artist Deborah De Robertis caused a scandal at Musee d’Orsay once again! The artist was arrested in Paris for posing nude next to the famous Olympia painting by Edouard Manet. The event occured during the exhibition Splendor and Misery: Images of Prostitution 1850-1910 that’s currently on view at Musée D’Orsay. This arrest is the last in the long line of sex-related incidents that happened recently and caused a lively discussion about the freedom of art in France.

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Musée d’Orsay via top travels

Vagina Art by Deborah de Robertis

Deborah De Roberts is no stranger to controversy or Musée D’Orsay officials, for that matter. Last year, she caused quite a stir by exposing her vagina in front of the celebrated painting Origin of the World. While wearing only a short dress, she set in front of the artwork, spread her legs and revealed her genitalia, thus recreating the motif from Gustave Courbet’s celebrated painting. “My work -baptized: Mirror of the origin does not reflect the sex, but the eye of sex. I kept my vagina gaping with both hands to reveal, to show what is not seen in the original box, the eye of the vagina, the black hole, this concealed eye, this chasm, which, beyond the flesh, refers to infinity, to the origin of the origin.” – the artist elaborated the performance in a conversation with Luxemburger Wort. And although the reactions of the visitors were very positive, as they applauded the artist the security guards took her away and the museum’s officials charged her with indecent exposure.

Mirror of the Origin Performance by Deborah De Robertis

Performance at Musee d’Orsay

This time Deborah De Robertis performed a similar action: she walked next to a painting, took her clothes off and struck a pose similar to the one famed Olympia has on the painting. The security reacted immediately, by closing the room and asking her to get dressed. “As she refused, the police were called and removed her.” – the spokeswoman for the museum told AFP. And once again, Deborah De Robertis was charged with indecent exposure. The artist’s lawyer Tewfik Bouzenoune defended her by emphasizing that “It was an artistic performance,” which is why the artist “was wearing a portable camera to film the public’s reaction.”

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Edouard Manet – Olympia via The Guardian

Freedom of Art or Indecent Exposure?

The incident rose the question about the position of freedom of artistic expression in France. The country that has been synonymous with the sexual liberation for centuries, had several sex-related incidents in the past few years. Last year, artist Steve Cohen was found guilty of indecent exposure after a performance (that included dancing around the Eiffel Tower dressed in a corset and tights with a live rooster attached to his penis), although he was only trying to portray the gap between his native South Africa and his country of residence France. In 2014 a massive sculpture by an American artist Paul McCarthy was deflated because it resembled greatly of a sex toy. And who could forget the infamous “vagina of the queen saga”, when Anish Kapoor‘s sculpture was repeatedly vandalized for containing sexually implicit tones. Although we tend to think that artistic expression is as free as it can get, sadly the recent cases show that we still have a long way to go.

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Featured Images : Deborah De Robertis via I Love You magazine ; All images via Deborah De Robertis’ Facebook page unless otherwise credited ; Images for illustrative purposes only