French artist Gustave Courbet in 1866. It is a l’ABCdaire du Musée d’Orsay PDF-up view of the genitals and abdomen of a naked woman, lying on a bed with legs spread.
Art historians have speculated for years that Courbet’s model for L’Origine du monde was his favourite model, Joanna Hiffernan, also known as Jo. Her lover at the time was the American painter James Whistler, a friend of Courbet. In February 2013, Paris Match reported that Courbet expert Jean-Jacques Fernier had authenticated a painting of a young woman’s head and shoulders as the upper section of L’Origine du monde which according to some was severed from the original work. Ottoman diplomat, is believed to have commissioned the work shortly after he moved to Paris.
After Khalil Bey’s finances were ruined by gambling, the painting subsequently passed through a series of private collections. It was first bought during the sale of the Khalil Bey collection in 1868, by antique dealer Antoine de la Narde. Edmond de Goncourt hit upon it in an antique shop in 1889, hidden behind a wooden pane decorated with the painting of a castle or a church in a snowy landscape. In 1955 L’Origine du monde was sold at auction for 1. 5 million francs, about 4,285 US dollars at the time. Its new owner was the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Gustave Courbet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008.
During the 19th century, the display of the nude body underwent a revolution whose main activists were Courbet and Manet. Courbet later insisted he never lied in his paintings, and his realism pushed the limits of what was considered presentable. With L’Origine du monde, he has made even more explicit the eroticism of Manet’s Olympia. By the very nature of its realistic, graphic nudity, the painting still has the power to shock and triggers censorship. Although moral standards and resulting taboos regarding the artistic display of nudity have changed since Courbet, owing especially to photography and cinema, the painting remained provocative. Its arrival at the Musée d’Orsay caused high excitement.
L’Origine does not represent a full female body but rather a slice of one, cut off by the frame . The pallidness of the skin and the mortuary gauze surrounding the body suggest death. L’origine du monde showing a penile erection. L’Origine du monde on its cover. Police visited several French bookshops to have them withdraw the book from their windows. A few proprietors maintained the book, but others complied, and some voluntarily removed it.
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz created two versions of the famous painting. The first is a photograph made of dust or dirt, which plays with the common moralist association between female genitalia and filth. In the second piece , Muniz remakes L’Origine from an assemblage of journal clippings that are reminiscent of the anatomic and artistic procedure of cutting that produced the female body. Mexican artist Enrique Chagoya « recycles L’Origine du monde as a spectral backdrop behind three solid black, blue and white squares of canvas in three of the corners of the painting. In the foreground of the bottom right corner, an indigenous man sits at a fourth canvas, this one on an easel, apparently ‘interpreting’ the Courbet painting. In 2002, American artist Jack Daws created an homage to the painting. Entitled Origins of the World, it is a collection of various photographs of vulvas, taken from pornographic magazines, and framed in montage.
The British artist Anish Kapoor created an installation in 2004 called L’Origine du monde, which references Courbet’s painting. The piece is in the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa in Japan. The Serbian performance artist Tanja Ostojić parodied the work in a poster in 2005, informally called the « EU panties » poster. Like Courbet’s painting, the poster proved controversial, and was ultimately removed from the art exhibition in which it was originally displayed.