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Artist exposes genitals in Paris museum stunt

Sophie Inge · 3 Jun 2014, 15:27

Published: 03 Jun 2014 15:27 GMT+02:00

It's been over a century since Gustave Courbet painted the ‘L’Origine du Monde’, which depicts a close-up view of the genitals and abdomen of a naked woman with her legs spread, and the painting still has the ability to stir up controversy, it would seem.

Luxembourg-based visual artist Deborah de Robertis shocked visitors at Paris’s famous Musée D’Orsay with her own live representation of the 19th century painting late last month, France TV reported.

Accompanied by Schubert’s Ave Maria and dressed in a gold robe, the artist reportedly sat down in front of Courbet’s masterpiece where she assumed a similar pose to that of the original.

The X-rated, May 29th performance – entitled ‘Miroir de L’Origine’ (Mirror of the Origin) – was greeted with applause by bystanders, but museum staff weren’t so impressed.

In a video of the performance, which has since been removed from YouTube for violating the website’s terms of service, the artist is immediately approached by a security guard who tells her put an end to the performance.

When the artist refuses to cover herself, a security guard stands in front of her to hide her from view while another evacuates the room.

Visitors at Paris's Musée D'Orsay admire the original 'L'Origine du Monde'. Photo: Wikicommons 

According to the website Secondsexe, management at the museum alerted the police and de Robertis was held for questioning, but reportedly won't face criminal charges.

Story continues below…

There's something about Paris that seems to help artists separate themselves from their clothing. One of the most striking examples was the South African artist Steven Cohen, who ended up being convicted of sexual exhibitionism after a performance in front of the Eiffel Tower that saw him dance with a rooster tied to his penis.

"What I did was art (that) had nothing to do with sexuality," he had told the court, adding that no one - even a group of passing nuns - had complained about the performance.

“It was not the penis that was the focus,” Cohen had told the court. It was all to do with the expression of his identity – “a white male, homosexual and Jewish”, he told the court.

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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