The Loss of Virginity relates a young girl’s sexual awakening to the natural landscape. Gauguin referred to the fox – a recurrent motif in his work – as the ‘Indian symbol of perversity’, though Breton folklore also identifies it with sexual power. The crowd of figures in the background may be a wedding party coming to meet the deflowered girl. Although painted in Paris at a time when Gauguin was closely involved with Symbolist writers and critics, the landscape is recognisable from other works that he made in Brittany. The model was Juliette Huet, a seamstress. She was two months pregnant at the time, and gave birth to their daughter Germaine while Gauguin was in Tahiti.
The novelist Paul Auster based a character, Maria, on French artist Sophie Calle in his novel Leviathan. After reading the novel, Calle decided to try and become the character, to recreate the parts of Maria that Auster had made up. Maria had a “chromatic diet”, eating food of only one colour on a given day. Monday orange: carrots, cantaloupe, shrimps. Tuesday red: tomatoes, steak tartare. And so on. For a week, Calle followed this regime and photographed it.
“He had used my real life to create a fictional character and I wanted to reverse the process. I asked him to write a character that I could become.”
Yves Klein used naked women as ‘human paintbrushes’ to make his Anthropometry paintings, which were produced as elaborate performances in front of an audience. Klein, in bow-tie and suit, would conduct the women as they covered themselves in paint (a colour he patented as ‘International Klein Blue’) and made imprints of their bodies, whilst musicians played his ‘Monotone Symphony’ – a single note played for twenty minutes, followed by twenty minutes of silence.
Yves Klein Anthropometry events were one of the key events in the history of painting and performance A revolutionary moment in art when the artist exposed the making of the painting. They really mark a shift between painting as something that happens on the canvas to artists exposing the making of painting