Deborah de Robertis demonstrated her own edition of The Origin of the World.
Gustav Courbet’s 19th century erotic oil painting The Origin of the World features the genitals of an (until recently) faceless nude and is roundly considered a masterpiece.
Although at the time of painting it was considered too risqué to exhibit and could even have seen the artist sent to prison on charges of “affronting pubic and religious morals”, it now hangs in Paris’s Musée d’Orsay.
Months ago, artist Deborah de Robertis decided to incorporate Courbet’s work into her own performance piece
This saw her take a seat in front of the priceless painting and expose her own genitals to museum goers.
Robertis is seen entering the strolling into the gallery barefoot and dressed elegantly in a sparkling gold dress.
She settles below the painting believed to be of Courbet’s then lover Irish model Joanna Hiffernan – splays her legs and holds open her vulva.
Startled museum guards flutter around Robertis, occasionally standing in front of her spread legs, though the artist does not even appear to raise an eyebrow.
Spontaneous applause breaks out during the impromptu show which ended with Robertis eventually being escorted away by police.
It was reported that two of the museum guards have filed sexual exhibitionist complaints against her.
A museum spokesman said: “This is a typical case of disrespecting the museum’s rules, whether for a performance or not.
“No request for authorisation was filed with us. And even if it had been, it’s not certain we would have accepted it as that may have upset our visitors.”
Robertis tells Luxemburger Wort: “If you ignore the context, you could construe this performance as an act of exhibitionism, but what I did was not an impulsive act.
“There is a gap in art history, the absent point of view of the object of the gaze. In his realist painting, the painter shows the open legs, but the vagina remains closed.
“He does not reveal the hole, that is to say, the eye. I am not showing my vagina, but I am revealing what we do not see in the painting, 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.”