Alternative Conceptions (after Leonardo)
73" × 92" acrylic on canvas
73" × 92" acrylic on canvas
129" × 225" digital billboard on vinyl
47" x 58" acrylic on canvas
Courbet’s Artist’s Studio was subtitled something like “A Real Allegory of the Last Seven Years of My Artistic and Intellectual Life.” He arranged various intellectuals and art world people on the right side of the canvas, including Baudelaire (David MacWilliam), Prudhon (Renee Van Halm), and prospective buyers/patrons. On the left side he portrayed various (stereo)types from the “real” world, including a hunter (with dog), a curate, a musician, a merchant, a veteran soldier, some circus folks, and an impoverished Irish (!) mother with a baby at her breast. Courbet sits in front of his landscape painting, instructing a small boy, with a dog or cat on the floor between them. The largest, brightest subject in the painting is a woman standing behind him, looking over his shoulder. To me, she is the most noticeable feature of the work, because she is naked, holding a garment to her chest – and baring her backside to the “art world.” Nothing is ever mentioned about her – presumably a model there just in case …
In my work based on Courbet’s the recognizable folks from my art world are Emily Carr instructors Landon MacKenzie, Renee Van Halm, Lucy Hogg, and David MacWilliam, studio mates Suzo Hickey, Daniel Ellingsen, and Monique Genton, and in the foreground, some art enthusiast friends.
On the left side of my canvas are Bert Hanson and Bill Hook, the couple to whom we sold our B&B business (Gables Guest House), various friends, including Donna Rhindress who attended Emily Carr for a time, and then became part of the early lesbian baby boom with her partner Claudette, and moved back to Haida Gwaii. (They are also subjects of the painting in my version, above the painting on the easel.) Also included on the left are various friends, and my sister Jane. Bert is featured twice, holding up some drapery over the canvas on my easel.
My partner Corrie and our dog Maggie supplant the Irish beggar woman, and another child of the lesbian baby boom (whose mother is also wearing a red plaid shirt at the left of the painting) stands in front of the artist. Corrie is also featured in place of the model.
In the background of Courbet’s studio, there are various draperies and canvases, and in my version, are various of my own paintings and also collaborations, including a video still from Beauty by Impairment made with Monique Genton, and a painting, Forking and Spooning, and a sculptural installation, Camille, Wallflower, made with Jennifer Ettinger. On the easel is a painting based on one of Manet’s, with a lesbian couple, Gail Roberts and Joan Ford, locking eyes in a café. Gail was also an Emily Carr student at the time.
Many of the images included were taken from photo albums, and a few were staged for the painting. This was created digitally in the first version of Photoshop (saved across 4 floppy discs), then transferred to a photographic 4″ × 5″colour transparency, which was then rescanned by a billboard company in Los Angeles, and output to a size similar to Courbet’s.
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