11 January 2010

Madame X

This photograph is online at: http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=8&FP=46801092&E=2K1KTS6URHS5K&SID=2K1KTS6URHS5K&New=T&Pic=2&SubE=2C6NU0CVNJC3

It is exhibited at Toulouse, musée d'Art moderne et contemporain, les Abattoirs.

The author is Joël-Peter Witkin (1939 – ).

Title: Madame X.

While, of course it is a riff on the Venus de Milo, I think that it captures well the ambivalence of the male gaze with regard to androgyny.  The fact that it is a modified photograph, and thus more ‘realistic’ than a statue, that it combines ‘hermaphrodite’ in the art sense with body mutilation that accidentally happened to Greek and Roman statues over 2,000 years.   Wasn’t it the 1953 Julius Caesar, directed by Joseph Mankiewicz with Marlon Brando, that featured armless statues of the Venus de Milo type as if the Romans actually created them like that?

1 comment:

Caroline said...

This image has haunted me for years. If you have seen much of Joel's work you really cannot work out what is real because he sought out so much that was naturally strange.

Caroline xx