Euterpe (2001), Wim Delvoye, estimated at 100,000-140,000 euro, stained glass with radiographies of couples making love, steel, X-rays, glass, lead, 200 X 80 cm. Auction of 25 October in Lokeren. www.de-vuyst.com
This work by Wim Delvoye (No. 1965), one of the most prominent Belgian visual artists, belongs to the Gothic inspiration in his art. This wave developed after Cloaca, his famous machine manufacturing “artist shit”, his tattooed pigs, concrete mixers and other embellished everyday objects, through cathedrals, metal shrines, twisted Christ figures and scandalous stained glass windows. His Gothic works have been exhibited throughout the world: in 2002 in New York at Sperone Westwater; in Brussels at Bozar in 2010; and in Nice at Mamac the same year. One of his chapels is still visible at Mudam, in Luxembourg. The museum had commissioned from the artist a chapel made entirely of metal, which he designed in 2006, decorating it with stained glass windows based on the same principle as the work under consideration here, which went under De Vuyst’s hammer on 25 October.
Instead of the patterns of intestines, middle fingers, kisses, skulls and various bones of the Mudam stained glass windows, this 2001 piece features X-rays of flirting and copulating couples. The principle is similar; in both cases, Delvoye’s intent is to desecrate religion and its attributes. The window becomes pagan, scatological, absurd, impure, emptied of all substance… It gets its hybrid status from the mix of historical styles and the unbridled imagination of an artist fascinated by the Middle Ages, yesterday’s artistic legacies and today’s technology and objects. Delvoye readily employs combinations in order to offend, annoy, and question, in this case the pervasiveness of sex in today’s society.
Already back in 1989-90, with his Finales series, he had produced subversive and decadent Gothic stained glass windows depicting football matches! Euterpe is one of the 9 Muses series created by Delvoye in 2001. His stained glass windows include X-rays, which are themselves rated “X” as pointed out by Helen Depotte (1) since they are sex scenes that other critics would call downright obscene! The fact that the window is exhibited in a false wall testifies to the loss of religious values in our time. The light which the stained glass used to convert into something divine now delivers a trivial message. This original piece made with the care and “refinement” which the artist is famous for (the metal is laser cut) is presented with a reserve price of 100,000 to 140,000 euro.
- (1) In Wim Delvoye, Paris, Flammarion, 2010