The artist Tracey Emin has praised Gustave Courbet’s controversial painting The Origin of the World (1866) as part of an Instagram lockdown project launched by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris called “A Week With”.
For the project, artists choose a different work every day over a week drawn from the museum’s collection. Emin says that Courbet’s work, which focuses on a woman’s genitals, is “so sexy… I have been in a lot of trouble for loving this work. I even once said there isn’t a heterosexual man in the world that doesn’t want to lay his head down there, many women too… this painting is all about female strength.”
Her selection also includes Théophile Alexandre Steinlen’s Black Cat Rolled in a Ball on a Sofa (1920) because it reminds Emin, known for her installation My Bed (1998), of her late cat Docket who “died peacefully with dignity on my lap, with his little head in my hands”. Another favourite, also by Steinlen (Study of a Woman sat on a Man’s Knee) is one of the best “sex drawings” Emin has ever seen. “Frenzied, drunk, intoxicating… it looks good from every angle. Like they are fucking on the floor. Unapologetic with no boundaries. That’s how people should make love, and draw,” Emin writes.