March 16, 2009

Charlie Finch on Kathleen Gilje's 96 breasts

"I stopped by Francis Naumann's 57th Street gallery last week to watch Kathleen Gilje install her altered series of 48 female portraits by John Singer Sargent, women that Kathleen has undressed and given the breasts of 48 living women....Now, with a brace of breasts, Kathleen seeks to have us open our mouths and drink from her work. On TMZ's television gossip show the other night, one of its female correspondents remarked that, apropos of a snap of a famous actress handling two ripe melons at the supermarket, 'one is always bigger than the other,' and, indeed this peculiar metonymy drives the 96 breasts that Kathleen has painted. They cannot help but obliterate the fine society of faces which were the locus of Sargent's eroticism and, of course, they eliminate the fashionable clothes which veiled his desires." Read more.

Kathleen Gilje: 48 Portraits / Sargent’s Women, Restored,” Francis Naumann Fine Art, New York, NY. Through April 10.

2 comments:

Sharon, I'm sorry but Ms. Gilje's work is about as corny as "a tampon in a teacup"! Possibly the silliest idea to come along in a while. I know that there are a lot of very bad contemporary art ideas out there but this one is not only the kind of idea that you concoct and immediately dismiss, it's also badly painted, which, in a way, weakens and defeats Ms. Gilje's whole concept because she can't even come within a light year of Sargent's untouchable facility with oil paint.

Anonymous, seems to me that Ms. Gilje is a fine artist, great actually. YOU probably cannot even come within a light year of her amazing skills. As for the idea to reconstruct these rather boring old paintings with a modern perspective, well, it may not be the most original idea nor your cup of tea (no pun intended) however, she has done a marvelous job of transforming these paintings into the new.

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