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This One Sold #4

August 16, 2013

Parody, an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect, is a useful tool when seeking ideas for conceptual art. When I taught illustration I often gave an assignment to find a famous work of art and mock it in some way. I’ve painted many parodies over the years and not long ago I posted one—Anne of Claws based on Holbein’s Anne of Cleves.


In 1994 I was contacted by the art director of Portland State University’s alumni magazine. He needed cover art for an article titled “Curriculum Revolution.” I immediately began thinking about famous revolutionary works of art, and Delacroix’s iconic Liberty Leading the People sprang to mind. My idea was to show Lady Liberty sporting a mortarboard, graduation cap, instead of the Phrygian cap in the original painting. I presented a sketch and received the art director’s approval to proceed to the final art…with one exception. The director was adamant that I not show Liberty’s monumental breasts. Too titillating for college students, I supposed.



Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People painted in 1830.


I was tasked with covering her breasts in a manner consistent with the painting without distracting from the graduation cap. This meant altering the painting in Delacroix’s style. I think it turned out rather well. Not that I avoided criticism.


Final approval for my cover lay in the hands of the University’s dean. He loved my illustration and didn’t notice the addition of drapery over Liberty’s breasts, but he did notice the pistol brandished in the hand of the boy beside her.


“Children shouldn’t play with guns,” the dean said. “Remove the gun!”


This time the art director leapt to my defense. He pulled out a copy of the original and explained that the pistol was an important part of the painting. The dean relented and the pistol stayed. I always thought it interesting that he took issue with the pistol and never noticed that the exposed breasts were gone.  




So politically correct effected your art from time to time. Liberal vrs Liberal. Reminds me of the old Mad Mag. Spy vrs. Spy. My first thought at the original painting was "Nice Jugs!"
By: Cranky on August 16, 2013
At least you somewhat maintained your artistic integrity. I think Coldplay used the original for an album cover; too bad they didn't use your version or you'd probably be rich!
By: PT Dilloway on August 16, 2013
Ha! Lady Liberty doesn't like any kind of restraints. Well done picture-
By: Shelly on August 16, 2013
titillating....snort giggle.....
By: Kathe W. on August 16, 2013
Well done. It is always a great feeling when you have an apologist on your side.
By: David Walston on August 16, 2013
Am I mistaken? I always assumed that college aged kids (esp. boys) had a lot more hands on experience with girl's breasts than they did with guns.
By: Cheryl P. on August 16, 2013
Well, you took care of the breast problem, although you fixed it with a magical chemise that stays up with no straps. I think it's very odd that her breasts were bare to begin with. All the men seem to have gotten through the battle, clothes intact, including hats! So why did the lone woman's clothes get damaged and expose her? Is it possible that it's medieval porn and that men enjoyed porn then as much as they do now? Hmm...
By: Lexa Cain on August 16, 2013
My, political correctness way back then. But you did it well.
By: Catalyst/Bruce on August 16, 2013
an interesting compromise! :)
By: TexWisGirl on August 16, 2013
Upset about the pistol but not the bayonet? Some things about being politically correct i will never understand. Thank goodness. A very good rendering on your part.
By: mimi on August 16, 2013
You handled it beautifully!!
By: fishducky on August 16, 2013
You did a great job! Love it.
By: LL Cool Joe on August 16, 2013
I always find guns more offensive than breasts, especially those breasts well sculpted by the Creator or the Painter. That is a great cover, despite the wardrobe issues forced upon you. Nice take on Delacroix's work.
By: Tom Cochrun on August 16, 2013
Political correctness would be funny if it wasn't so often totally serious!
By: Jenny Woolf on August 16, 2013
So this is a good example that people's vision is some what limited. I wonder if you asked the guy about the drapery over the breasts what he would say.
By: Red on August 16, 2013
That makes me want to run out and brandish something.
By: Val on August 16, 2013
Beautifully done! You are amazing!
By: Eva Gallant on August 16, 2013
It's a good thing the art director was there to counteract the dean's lack of knowledge. I like how you fixed it, even though, as one commenter pointed out, how the heck is that chemise staying up? crazy glue?!
By: jenny_o on August 16, 2013
Stephen: You had me laughing at the line that begins, "I was tasked with..." That was quite a task! :)
By: Michael Manning on August 17, 2013
I guess there's more than one way to boost morale. I wonder if he would have even noticed if you'd drawn in a third barely covered breast?
By: Scott Park on August 17, 2013
The sight of boobs might make college students think about sex. We can't have that! Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on August 17, 2013
Nicely portrayed and executed, Steph! The one revolution/evolution is that sex sells however titillating it may seem to some.
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 17, 2013
Love it, what a great imagination.
By: John on August 18, 2013

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