Starting in 1973 artist Jacques Charlier, began his series of caricaturing "artists' genitalia." For the next three decades he created 100 imaginary portraits of the "procreative organs" of artists he considers to have been major figures in 20th century contemporary art since, and including, Marcel Duchamp.
These caricatures are based on "conceptual analysis and personal interpretations of the artistic attributes of major representatives of modern and contemporary art, thus enabling, among other things, a humorous and satirical re-reading of recent art history." Along with curator Enrico Lunghi and support from French-Speaking Community Wallonia-Brussels and Wallonia-Brussels International, the portraits were initially proposed to be exhibited in the form of posters in an open-air museum in Venice coinciding with the Biennale.
The proposal was denied by the Biennale director because he "believed there was a risk of offending the artists concerned." They were also denied public advertising and bill posting space saying it would offend public decency.
However, neither of these set backs hindered the artist and curator. With support from the Ministry of Culture and Broadcasting of the French Speaking Community of Belgium, they fought the Venetian censorship and secured letters of permission from all artists concerned.
"What is more, galvanized by this inadmissible censorship, we contacted other cities and art institutions who have accepted to present the "100 Sexes d'Artistes" project in public space with no hesitation. Which just goes to show the ridiculous nature of the Venetian position... It only remains for the art world and journalists to ask themselves what values the Venice Biennale is promoting if it censors an artistic project in such a dubious and irresponsible manner"
The show will continue as planned from 3 to 7 June 2009, on the boat moored at the Riva dei Sette Martiri in Venice. The exhibition will be open from 10am - 8pm. Online images of the caricatures will be released June 3.