Plenty of absurd things are “artsy,” like crafting Jesus on the cross out of elephant feces or giving birth inside an art gallery as a live action installation. But a drawing of Michelle Obama topless on the cover of Spain’s Magazine de Fuera de Serie is plain old tasteless. In my opinion, they have every right to depict her artistically, even in poor taste. But that doesn’t mean they should do it.
Clutch Magazine is calling the image racist because the First Lady is depicted with her hair wrapped in a turban and her breast out like a slave nurse. Given how the title of the article is “Michelle Tataraniea De Esclava, Dueña De América” or “Michelle Granddaughter of a Slave, Lady of America,” I see their point, although as a non-Spanish speaker I first looked at the image and just thought OMG that’s Michelle Obama’s boobs. [Update: It has been brought to my attention the Michelle Obama image is based on the 1800 painting “Portrait d’une negresse” by artist Marie-Guillemine Benoist.]
The magazine cover’s artist, Karine Percheron-Daniels, has done other shocking portraits of other famous people, including President Obama and the Queen of England, and says she intends the series to be thought-provoking. While that sounds like an interesting idea, whatever resulting conversation about “shock value” we might have in this already highly cynical society hardly seems a good excuse for depicting the First Lady as both sexualized and enslaved.
Also? Y’all just made the next United Nations
G-8 summit really awkward, Spain.