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Two women charged in France over graffiti on famed vulva painting

By AFP

May 8, 2024 12:18 AM


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Two women were charged in France on Tuesday over the spraying of the words "MeToo" on five artworks including a famous 19th-century painting of a woman's vulva, a prosecutor said.

The women, born in 1986 and 1993, were arrested on Monday afternoon after targeting "The Origin of the World", a nude painted by French artist Gustave Courbet.

The 1866 artwork on display at the Centre Pompidou-Metz was protected by a "glass pane", the museum in the northeastern city of Metz said.

French-Luxembourgish performance artist Deborah de Robertis told AFP she had organised the spray painting in red of the nude and another painting, carried out by two other people, as part of a performance titled: "You Don't Separate the Woman from the Artist".

Metz prosecutor Yves Badorc said five works had been sprayed with the words "MeToo" and one stolen.

The two women were charged with degrading and stealing cultural property, he said.

In a video sent to AFP by de Robertis, one woman tags Courbet's famous painting with red paint and then a second sprays another one. They then chant "MeToo" before being dragged away by security guards.

In an open letter, de Robertis denounced the behaviour of six men in the art world, describing them as "predators" and "censors".

De Robertis said they had also seized an embroidery work by French artist Annette Messager as "reappropriation".

The prosecutor said a third person -- who was not arrested -- could have been behind the theft of the 1991 work titled "I Think Therefore I Suck".

De Robertis said the work belonged to an art critic.

"I recognised it straight away, I wanted to throw up as it's the one hanging over his marital bed. I remembered the numerous blow-jobs that he allowed himself to ask me as if it was his due," when she was 26, she said.

De Robertis already had work on display at the venue in Metz -- a photograph of a 2014 performance at the Musee d'Orsay in which she posed showing her vulva underneath Courbet's painting.

"The Origin of the World" is in Metz on loan from the Musee d'Orsay.

A French court in 2020 sentenced de Robertis to pay a 2,000-euro ($2,150) fine for appearing naked in 2018 in front of a cave in the town of Lourdes in southwest France, a Catholic pilgrimage site for those who believe the Virgin Mary appeared there.

A case against her was dropped in 2017 after she showed her vulva in front of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa at the Louvre museum in the French capital.


AFP


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