Bonjour Monsieur Courbet; Gustave Courbet
Inkjet on watercolour paper
90 x 67.5 centimetres
Gustave Courbet’s 1854 painting, which depicts the painter meeting a collector of his work, Alfred Bruyas, in a rural location, has here been reimagined as a trio of hipsters meeting in a middle ring Melbourne suburban street. The shift in the choice of this setting was driven by the desire to comment on the shifting demographics of the city, where former inner city bohemian enclaves have become, due to gentrification, unaffordable for most artists. The collector’s traditional Californian bungalow house, fenced by a privet hedge, has a neighbouring property that is typical of the outer suburbia usually avoided by Australia’s creative community. It is not only a comment on the culture of this city but it also reflects my observation of the cute artist’s cottage owned by a former girlfriend whose neighbour lives in a stark brick veneer house replete with a large flat screen TV, wall-to-wall carpet and an obsessively neatly mown treeless block.
The collector is shown wearing the loudest shirt, possibly wearing his credentials as a player in the art world, and the manservant with the bowed head in the Courbet painting is portrayed in this re-imagining as his probable boyfriend.Bonjour Monsieur Courbet; National Gallery of Australia