Friday, December 03, 2010

End game

People who don’t go for contemporary art often use the “you could take a dump in the middle of a gallery and they'd call it art” line. And fair enough, many artists have indeed used human waste to shine some light into the darker limits of experience. Some have put feces into the foreground (Andres Serrano) and some into the background (Gilbert and George) of their work.

As we’ve pointed out before, an investment in Piero Manzoni’s bowel movements would have got a better return than laying out the same money on gold. Exposing the same territory Martin Creed caused a few gasps at Scape in Christchurch in 2006 when he showed his film of young people vomiting, or attempting to vomit, onto the clean white floors of a video studio. At the beginning, or may be it was at the end of that presentation, Creed promised another work featuring more bodily excretions, this time from the rear. And so his Work 600.

Imagine then our surprise (and mild disgust) to find that even here the Impressionists had been there and done that in the person of Toulouse-Lautrec. Photographs of him relieving himself were taken by Parisian art dealer Maurice Joyant on the beach at Le Crotoy, Picardie and printed as postcards.

Images: left, Toulouse-Lautrec photographed in action by Maurice Joyant, right, Martin Creed Work 600