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Gustave Courbet - Le Sommeil detail

text: Francesca Lombardi

April 27, 2020

The hugs of

The sleep of Gustave Courbet with Sergio Risaliti

Forget the whiteness of the first hug we told you about, the soft modesty of Pontormo's clothes and the composure of those bodies. In this painting, Eros enters powerful and all-encompassing, in his most daring and provocative form, but without affecting the beauty of these two women's bodies, all wrapped up in each other. On the contrary, he exalts the balance of love in all its forms: there is nothing perverse or rough in this sleep, even if you can sense that it comes after a relationship between the two women.

Gustave Courbet, The spleep (1866)

The painting - almost contemporary with another equally scandalous painting by Courbet in the mid-1800s, L'Origine du Monde - was kept hidden by the client for many years, and when his business went badly and he sold it, the painting, which became public, was the subject of a police report. In 1953 it entered the collections of the Parisian museum Petit Palais, to which it still belongs today.

Sergio Risaliti, artistic director of the Museo Novecento but also art critic, creator and curator of some of the most interesting exhibitions and cultural events on the international scene, told this story for He rose to the forefront of contemporary art as artistic director of Palazzo delle Papesse in Siena between 1998 and 2001, and left his mark on the creation of major events such as the solo shows of Bacon, Beuys, Burri, and the opening of prestigious foreign collections such as that of the Parisian Fondation Cartier. After the Sienese experience in Florence, he signed some of the most important exhibitions of the Ferragamo Museum and the Bardini Museum. In collaboration with the City of Florence and the Biennale dell'Antiquariato di Firenze, it has continued the great turning point of the city towards contemporary art by curating exhibitions by artists of the caliber of Urs Fisher, Jeff Koons, Jan Fabre, Giuseppe Penone to name but a few.  Today his research work continues at the Museo Novecento where, alongside the great names on the Italian scene, he leaves ample space for teaching and young talents.

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