The Salon of the Refused (le Salon des Réfusés)

4 August 2011

Serge Verheugen - Olympia II

Serge Verheugen - Raft of the Medusa II

8 oilpaintings on canvas, adapted copies of old masters:

Olympia – Manet

Déjeuner sur l’herbe (luncheon on the grass)  – Manet

The raft of the Medusa – Géricault

Matthew and the angel – Caravaggio

Feast at the house of Levi – Veronese

Nu descendant un escalier (nude descending a staircase) – Duchamp

Casseurs de pierres (stone breakers) – Courbet

Woman with fish hat – Picasso

These originals were chosen to star in a new painting installation.
When they first arrived on the art-scene, they each aroused a big controversy, on different, moral grounds. Because they didn’t conform to religious doctrine, moral codes or decency standards, they were unacceptable to the patrons.
This rejection resulted in the works being painted over, renamed or put in depot.
Years later another ultimate moral judgement was passed on some of these paintings, when the were lost during the bombing of Dresden in the second world war.

Serge Verheugen - Matthew and the Angel II

Serge Verheugen - Feast at the house of Levi II

Nowadays they have all found their prominent places in art history. Some of them can even be found on mugs, calendars and placemats. Few people will be aware of the controversy they once raised; changing times, changing morals.
In an attempt to arouse new controversy, monochrome copies were painted along with a few additions.
The models that once posed for the artists, now take center stage, rather than at the people they portray. Artists were often not very wealthy, and have probably not always been able to use beautiful professional models. Cheap models like farmers daughters, hobo’s, and beggars filled the studios. People not known for their grace or angelic appearances. That’s why in the new versions, they have been given big, coarse hands, and an unidentifiable “street-face”. Not knowing them or their stories, they’ve all been given an empty text balloon. If they wish to tell us their tale, they now can.

Serge Verheugen - Salon des Réfusés II

A mural by Dutch artist Karel Appel once graced a wall in the employee-canteen at Amsterdam City Hall. The workers however expressed their horror over the piece, saying they were unable to swallow a single bite in the presence of such apparent ugliness. A wall was built in front of the mural, and all was well again.
When the building was reverted into a hotel, the mural was found, and is now the prized possession of the new owners.
In this installation, the mural features as background to the paintings, that are hung over it in the crowded fashion formerly used in museums.

Serge Verheugen - Casseurs des Pierres II

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