Culture As a Mirror In Works of the Dutch Artist Caroline Westerhout
04 oktober 2021 
25 min. read

Culture As a Mirror In Works of the Dutch Artist Caroline Westerhout

Caroline Westerhout is a portrait artist born in Weert, 1970. She studied at the Graphic Lyceum in Eindhoven and, after graduation, worked as a graphic designer. At the beginning of the 2000s, Westerhout started practicing oil painting. Her designer and painter skills allow her to combine elements of traditional fine art with graphic effects.

Caroline Westerhout Rembrandt

Fig. 1. Rembrandt versus me (saatchiart.com)

Klimt and Courbet

Westerhout majorly produces self-portraits that reflect her inner state. She often exploits Klimt’s ornate manner, initiating the dialog with a painter. Westerhout seems to project images of great mythological women onto herself and gets a vivid mixture of realism and mythology. Despite decorativeness, her version of Judith looks more naturalistic and vulnerable than the original that depicts this biblical character as femme fatale. The remake of Courbet’s scandalous Origin of the World entitled Mea Vulva raises questions of misogyny and birth-giving.

Caroline Westerhout Judith Klimt

Fig. 2. Left: Klimt, Judith (1901) Right: Westerhout, Judith After the Trial (conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com)

Caroline Westerhout Mea Vulva Courbet

Fig. 3. Left: Courbet, The Origin of the World (1866) Right: Westerhout, Mea Vulva (conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com)

Westerhout Columbus’s Chicken

Fig. 4. Columbus’s Chicken (artwanted.com)

Columbus’s Chicken

This painting can be considered an ironic reply to men of art and their understanding of women. The title is connected with an idiom egg of Columbus, which means a simple solution to a complicated problem. Supposedly, someone said to Columbus that the discovery of America wasn’t a big deal. Columbus replied with a suggestion to make an egg stand on its’ tip. After unsuccessful attempts of the opponent, he tapped the egg on the table to crash the round top and set it up. Columbus’s Chicken plays with male concepts of mysterious femme fatale, saying that the mystery lies in the absence of any mystery. At the same time, it pays attention to the ambiguity of the reproductive process, which is both madly complicated and offensively primitive. The word chicken stresses the biological attitude to a woman as an incubator for new lives.

Klimt, Danae : Westerhout, Jealousy

Fig. 5. Left: Klimt, Danae (1908): Right: Westerhout, Jealousy (artwanted.com)

Self-Sufficient Sexuality

Another painting conceptually inspired by Klimt is Jealousy. The pose of a reclining girl resembles the well-known Danae. The absence of golden coins replaced with a simple dot pattern is remarkable. This image invites us to speculate upon what stands behind it. Is this girl jealous of someone’s sexual experience? We can easily imagine Danae telling her maidservant about a night with a god. In this case, the painting may indirectly point at the social pressure connected with issues of human sexuality when society makes sex a taboo and, at the same time, forces young people to try it not to be an outcast. Another Danae-like painting, Undisclosed Desire, depicts a lying woman in the act of masturbation, which looks like a manifest of self-sufficient sexuality. Curiously, some critics considered Klimt’s version of the Greek myth autoerotic and narcissistic as Danae fills almost all the canvas while Zeus plays the part of a pattern. From this point of view, Westerhout’s Desire is Klimt’s version pushed to its’ very limit with the male principle eliminated.

Undisclosed Desire Westerhof

Fig. 6. Undisclosed Desire (conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com)

The Trial of Paris

The painting My Jurisprudence seems to be another reply to the masters of culture as it apparently uses the famous story of the judgment of Paris. Three women painted in Klimt’s manner are goddesses Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena. We can’t tell who is who here as they lack individuality like ladies portrayed in sonnets of medieval poets. They are passive, yet the male figure is captured by a squid-like creature. Goddesses can’t decide who’s the most beautiful, and Paris can’t judge as he stands as accused. It’s not the judgment of Paris, but the trial is of Paris. The only person who judges is Caroline Westerhout herself. And the form of her presence in the picture indicates the role she plays here. The ornamental male god of Gustav Klimt is finally eliminated because his functions are taken by a Columbus chicken. Who thinks the chicken and the god have nothing in common can try to lay an egg.

Westerhout My Jurisprudence

Fig. 7. My Jurisprudence (artwanted.com)

Caroline Westerhout Man and Woman

Fig. 8. Man and Woman (conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com)

Caroline Westerhout Foolish Pride

Fig. 9. Foolish Pride

Caroline Westerhout I Know

Fig. 10. I Know

Caroline Westerhout the box

Fig. 11. The Box (artwanted.com)

Caroline Westerhout My Green Heart

Fig. 12. My Green Heart (conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com)

Caroline Westerhout It’s My Party and I Cry if I Want to

Fig. 13. It’s My Party and I Cry if I Want to (conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com)

Caroline Westerhout Wake Me Up When September Ends

Fig. 14. Wake Me Up When September Ends

Caroline Westerhout Blue Room

Fig. 15. Blue Room

Caroline Westerhout Dutch artist

Fig. 16. conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com

Caroline Westerhout erotic

Fig. 17. conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com

Caroline Westerhout nude

Fig. 18. Grey 

Caroline Westerhout flesh

Fig. 19. Flesh

Caroline Westerhout fluid

Fig. 20. Fluid 

Caroline Westerhout I won't fall apart

Fig. 21. I won’t fall apart

Caroline Westerhout breast

Fig. 22. Tender

Caroline Westerhout breasts

Fig. 23. Breasts 

Caroline Westerhout Unchain My Heart

Fig. 24. Unchain My Heart

Caroline Westerhout Shadowplay

Fig. 25. Shadowplay

Caroline Westerhout The Straight Jacket

Fig. 26. The Straight Jacket

Caroline Westerhout Censor Me

Fig. 27. Censor Me

Caroline Westerhout Landscape

Fig. 28. Landscape

Caroline Westerhout Comfort zone

Fig. 29. Comfort zone

Caroline Westerhout All of Me

Fig. 30. All of Me

Caroline Westerhout Come Undone

Fig. 31. Come Undone

Caroline Westerhout Muse post mortem

Fig. 32. Muse post mortem (conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com)

Click HERE for expressive nude beauties of the Swiss avant-garde artist Luciano Castelli…!!

You can check out Westerhout’s recent work on Instagram..!!

Sources: caroline.exto.org; conchigliadivenere.files.wordpress.com; artwanted.com

What do you think about the remakes of Caroline Westerhout? Leave your reaction in the comment box below….!!

About the author
Darya is a philologist who lives and works in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. She is specialized in Russian literature.
Abdull F.
By

Abdull F.

on 04 Oct 2021

so beautiful

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 04 Oct 2021

Thanks Abdull!

Senju Shunga
By

Senju Shunga

on 07 Oct 2021

This is quite wonderful work! Very inspiring!

Marijn
By

Marijn

on 07 Oct 2021

Thanks a lot Senju, I'm pleased you get inspiration from our content!

JB
By

JB

on 12 Oct 2021

Stunning work! The play with the classics, and I'm calling Klimt a classic too, but above all the way she plays with shape and space, form and absence (ab-sense?) of form, the artist's request "will you fill my empty spaces anyway you like!," is a thing of beauty, playful innuendo full of desire. There's an orgasmic climax --- yet calm --- tension in it. Then, there's a loud cry, "free me!" voice against FGM, control and manipulation of female desire and sexuality in "Mea Vulva" or is it, "Mea Vulva, My Choice!" Superb addition to the Shunga Gallery.

Darya
By

Darya

on 12 Oct 2021

Thank you for this observation. Yes, there's a lot of inner potential in these works.

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