Of Fellow Workers, Art Lovers and Exploiters

Elena Soboleva
Nov 27, 2012 7:09PM

Courbet painted this enigmatic canvas of enourmous proportions between 1854 and 1855.  It was a grand statement on society as well as his own career and still proves to be a provocative and insightful view of the art world.

"It's the whole world coming to me to be painted," Courbet declared, "on the right, all the shareholders, by that I mean friends, fellow workers, art lovers. On the left is the other world of everyday life, the masses, wretchedness, poverty, wealth, the exploited and the exploiters, people who make a living from death." 

Wang Qingsong’s photograph MoMA Studio reinterprets Courbet's iconic painting 150 years later and comments on economic expansion and rising Western influence on contemporary Chinese art.

The Courbet painting is in the Musée d'Orsay Collection.   They also have a wonderful section of their website dedicated to Courbet's Letters, digitalized and available to the public.

Elena Soboleva