The row over a mural of Hillary Clinton by an Australian street artist reminds Kelly Grovier of an earlier – and more masterful – incidence when a painter had to cover up the naked female body.
In art, as in politics, it’s always the cover-up that gets you into trouble. A sequence of photos chronicling the evolution of a piece of graffiti in Melbourne, Australia caused a stir on social media this week. The before-and-after photos reveal how the work’s creator, the street artist known as Lushsux, responded to criticism of his depiction of the Democratic nominee for the US presidency, Hillary Clinton.
When local officials objected to Lushsux’s portrayal of Clinton wearing a skimpy star-spangled bathing suit stuffed with dollar bills, the artist revised his parody by hiding Clinton’s buxom figure behind an all-concealing black burqa with the aggressive caption “If this Muslim woman offends u, u r a bigot, racist, sexist Islamophobe”.
The irreverent transformation of one of the most famous and powerful women in the world from raunchy caricature to socio-religious satire shows a mischievous sleight of hand that unexpectedly links Lushsux’s work to a pair of masterpieces from the 19th Century – provocative portraits that sparked debate about portrayals of the female form two centuries ago. (Credit Photos: ABC News \ Reuters)