Amazing. Paris Match is reporting that Courbet's l'Origine du Monde (1866) has a head. That it was part of a larger painting, which was cut down by Courbet, or perhaps by his private client for the explicit painting, the Ottoman ambassador Khalil Bey. And that some "amateur" art aficionado found the head, and after two years of research it's been authenticated. Here's their interview with Courbet Catalogue raisonné editor Jean-Jacques Fernier:
But there are so many pieces missing from the story. Like, seriously, what are the odds? Where does one even look for something like this? Or even begin to think that, "Oh, maybe this antique store bauble goes on one of Courbet's most famous paintings, I'll buy it for EUR1200". Which means, was this amateur looking for the head? Did we all just never realize the canvas in l'Origine is rotated 45 degrees? Will we ever see a reconstitution of the painting fragments, like the National Gallery did with Manet's Execution of Maximilian?
Paris Match also has a recap of the underground painting's history. Duchamp and Picasso were both involved in the secret unveiling ceremony Jacques Lacan and his wife Sylvia Bataille cooked up for it in the mid-1950s?
Not sure how it happened, but it is seriously racy old-timer season here on greg.org right now.
"L'Origine du monde" : Le secret de la femme cachée [parismatch via artnet]
HAHA GIANT NOT SO FAST UPDATE:: Other French experts say the whole thing's crazy.