Deborah Kelly

(Australia 1962 – )

Venus envy (redux)

Not on display
Further information

In Deborah Kelly’s collage works, found images are entangled in cacophonous compositions that re-write the archive. Often oriented as a feminist critique of entrenched patriarchal perspectives, Kelly uses found images to tackle and subvert the way women have been imaged historically.

Kelly’s Venus envy (redux) re-images an iconic female figure. Collating different prints of the Rococo painter François Boucher’s Jeune Fille allongée, also known as L’Odalisque Blond, taken from seven now obsolete encyclopedias, all with variations in tone and print quality, Kelly presents a compound portrait of the same subject. That subject, thought to be Marie-Louise O’Murphy, was one of King Louis XV of France’s Petite maîtresse (little mistress) when she was barely a child. In Kelly’s re-imagining, as the artist herself asserts, ‘she is devoted instead to the ardent pursuit of her own pleasure and curiosity.’ Printed on metal with the luminosity of the drapery that swallows her amplified by a layer of lacquer, she possesses and projects what Kelly calls an ‘enduring, even steely, resolve.’

pigment print on die-cut aluminium, lacquer
39.0 x 125.0 x 1.0 cm overall approx.
Gift of Deborah Kelly 2020. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number
© Deborah Kelly