The body as an artistic object

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By ANNATERESS FABRIS*

Identity and disguise: the transvestite body

Although it is a secular practice, transvestism received the name by which it is known today only at the beginning of the 1910th century. In XNUMX, the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld published the book The transvestites [Os travestis], in which he states that transvestism was not in itself a sign of latent homosexuality, as it was very frequent among heterosexuals. The idea that transvestism is “a thing in itself”, clearly distinct from sexual orientation, finds confirmation in a historical figure such as the abbot of Choisy. The life of this 1663th-century nobleman, appointed abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Seine, near Lyon, in XNUMX, is fascinatingly defined by Marjorie Garber for the way in which he “manipulates and calls into question the stability of categories such as audience and actor, politics and theater, male and female”.

Treated like a girl by his mother, who made him wear feminine clothes and who, from the age of five or six, applied him “every day a certain lotion that destroyed hair at the root”, François-Timoléon de Choisy takes a liking to disguise and, between 1670 and 1674, it assumes the personalities of the countess des Barres and the lady of Sancy.[1] In the book Memories of the abbot of Choisy dressed as a woman, written in old age and published in full only in 1862, the author explains the reason for such a “bizarre pleasure”. Desiring “to be loved, adored” and having realized that love is born of beauty, almost always “the lot of women”, he decides to enhance his own beauty with “feminine adornments, which are very advantageous”. The “inexpressible pleasure of being loved” materialized in gallantry and compliments when she appeared at worldly events “with flashy dresses, diamonds and moles on her face”. The admiration of others was the source of “a pleasure that cannot be compared to anything, so great is it. Neither ambition nor riches nor love itself are equal to them, because we always love ourselves more than others.”2

Convinced heterosexual, Choisy uses female disguise to get close to pretty and generally poor girls, who become his lovers. His taste for role reversal is so great that he applies the game of cross-dressing to two of them. As Countess des Bordes, she takes under her wing a young actress, Roselie, whose acting she hones with advice and practical lessons. On the occasion of a hunt, he had her dressed in men's clothing and, finding her attractive “with a wig and hat”, turned the disguise into a habit: “The knight was a beauty, and it seemed to me like that, as a boy, to love it more; called him my little husband; they called him everywhere, to serve me as a squire, as a young count or little lord count”. The game, which lasts seven or eight months, is interrupted by the girl's pregnancy, forced to dress as a woman.

When Roselie gets married, the abbot thinks of himself again, resuming “the desire to be beautiful”. He orders “magnificent outfits”, goes back to wearing pendants in his ears and does not forget “the spots, the ribbons, the coquettish air and the grimaces”. Under the guise of Madame de Sancy, he converts young Charlotte into the lord of Maulny and performs a false marriage ceremony with her. Wearing “a sparkling dress, in silver fabric, and a little bouquet of orange blossoms, […] on top of her head”, the lady of Sancy joins in marriage with the lord of Maulny, respecting the rules of this type of ritual. Choisy remembers that, after they answered the usual question, “our hands intertwined, he put a little silver ring on my finger, we kissed”. After supper and the feast, in which gifts were distributed to the guests, the couple retires to the bridal chamber: Madame de Sancy is covered with a hammock, a cap and a bunch of ribbons on her head, while Monsieur de Maulny attends dressing gown, with her “hair tied back with a fiery ribbon”.

As Leonardo Fróes points out, it is not improbable that the abbot, when transforming himself into a woman and “continuously arranging his beautiful girls”, was repeating maternal gestures, extracting enormous pleasure from it:

It is in dressing himself and his loved ones that he most delights in composing his texts, where clothes, ribbons, diamonds, wigs and headdresses occupy more space than caresses and kisses. It is as if, with his theatrical talent, which he so loved to exercise, he made the girls, arranging them as he had been arranged until they were very large, the living pictures of his performance.

The most famous transvestite in the western world, the knight d'Éon, has a more complex life story than that of the abbot of Choisy, whose sexual orientation was never in doubt. Spy in the service of Louis XV since 1756, captain of dragoons in 1761, Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont lived in London between 1763 and 1777, where he became the subject of controversy over his sexual condition, that result in bets on the stock exchange and large insurance, contracted blindly. d'Eon himself3 she goes on to declare herself a woman in the 1770s, claiming to have been brought up as a boy so that her father could receive an inheritance. In addition to referring to herself as a woman in some letters, she begins to assemble a collection of books on strong femmes like the Amazons and Joan of Arc. Back in France, he is presented to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in women's clothing, after a long ritual of preparation, supervised by the queen's dressmaker, Rose Bertin. Obliged to dress as a woman by Louis XVI, but authorized to wear the cross of Saint Louis, received in 1763 for military merits, the knight never ceases to complain about the sedentary life and futile occupations typical of court life. At the same time, he agrees to the arrangement, especially after the king allocates special funds for him to build the new wardrobe. To escape this role, possibly devised by the king and his ministers to contain his anarchist impulses, curb his volatile personality and cast doubt on any declarations relating to his spy activity, d'Éon returned to England in 1785, where he earned his living as a woman-swordsman. In 1792, she sent a letter to the National Assembly of France, offering to lead a division of women in the war against the Habsburgs, but her request was turned down.

The fact that the knight continued to dress as a woman after the start of the French Revolution in 1789 and the execution of Louis XVI four years later, and that he rewrote his own history to assert his female status, cannot but raise questions about this figure. Although she lived as a woman between 1777 and 1810, the death certificate dispelled any and all doubts about her alleged female anatomy by demonstrating that the deceased was a male, with well-formed external genitalia. Since d'Éon lived the first forty-nine years as a man, declaring himself and being declared a woman in the last thirty-three, Garber asks a pertinent question: the fact that he was recorded as male on the birth certificate and on the death certificate, does it mean that “in the intervening years it was a man?”4.

Is it possible to say that Choisy and d'Éon treat their own bodies as “art objects”? The answer will be positive, if the reflections of Henri-Pierre Jeudy are taken into account, for whom the ways of getting ready, putting on makeup, dressing up and looking in the mirror are “undoubted signs of a daily obsession with the aestheticism. Everyday stagings, this theatricalization of life participate in an aesthetic obstinacy”. A question asked by the author is very close to Choisy's considerations about his own metamorphosis and d'Éon's ambivalent attitude towards the feminization process itself: by treating the body as an “art object”, the woman would not be becoming an accomplice of the ghosts of male power? If this is true, it cannot be forgotten that, by converting the body into an “art object”, men and women express the desire to live. There is no sociability without seduction and, therefore, without the implicit recognition of one's own body as an object for the other and for oneself.

By making the body a reason for constant reflection, XNUMXth century art establishes the dimension of play, seen as a relationship with the world different from that offered by ordinary social life. Despite the fact that the game is a comedy, a disguise, this does not mean that there are no relations with reality. Paul Ardenne recalls that playing implies living the experience of an intermediate reality: codified and, at the same time, capable of being penetrated without too many consequences. It means leaving the world while remaining in it, absenting oneself from need without ceasing to be present at its call, fleeing and returning in the same movement. Transposing the problematic of the game to the use that the XNUMXth century artist makes of his own body, Ardenne underlines the dissimulation strategies developed by him, according to an apparently contradictory principle: to hide means to show oneself.

A significant example of this attitude, in which the disguise involves transvestism, is the female double Rose Sélavy, created by Marcel Duchamp in the late 1910s, who signed works such as fresh widow (1919) Rotating glass plates: precision optics (1920) and Why not splash Rose Sélavy? (1921). In 1921, the pseudonym acquires a specific physiognomy: Rose becomes Rrose and becomes a photographic model for Man Ray. In the most famous image of the set of portraits dedicated to Duchamp's female double, which will be published on the cover of the magazine's single issue new york dada (1921), Ray makes use of several of the resources used in fashion photographs: soft lighting, coquettish pose and provocative gaze. The velvet hat lent by Germaine Everling, Francis Picabia's companion, the fox fur collar, the rings, the bracelet, the red mouth and the made-up eyes do not fail to suggest a tension with the facial features: pointed chin, prominent nose and aquiline profile. To make the model's femininity more credible, the hands that caress the fox fur, as if to feel its softness or the heat emanating from it, are not Duchamp's, but Everling's. Inspired by the typical poses of celebrities and divas, full of seduction and a subtle eroticism, the portrait in drag by Duchamp can be seen as a parody.

The parodic dimension encompasses at least two meanings. By appropriating the conventions of glamorous portraiture, the artist inserts himself in the (brief) tradition of photography with an ironic attitude that transforms similarity into difference. The emptying of photographic clichés takes place through a double movement: the incorporation of the implicit norms that govern the portrait of celebrities and a simultaneous challenge thanks to a not-quite-perfect imitation. By investing the issue of sexual identity, Rrose Sélavy's portraits can be approximated to another parodic attitude of Duchamp, interested in demeaning the sublime of art and its universalizing aspirations: the assisted ready-made LHOOQ (1919). In a Goliath gesture, the artist draws mustaches and goatee on a postcard representing a painting that became famous after it was stolen from the Louvre Museum in 1911: Mona Lisa (c. 1503-1506) by Leonardo da Vinci.

The provocation inherent in the Dadaist platform unfolds on several levels. The mockery, which casts doubt on the value of the work, is nonetheless a tacit acknowledgment that Leonardo's portrait, initially considered an expression of an enigmatic femininity, had come to represent the entire tradition of Western art. The metamorphosis of a female icon into an androgynous figure demonstrates that Duchamp, like Sigmund Freud in the essay “Leonardo da Vinci and a memory of his childhood” (1910), evokes the issue of homosexuality in the Florentine artist. It is possible that, with LHOOQ, Duchamp is proposing to see in Mona Lisa a disguised portrait of Leonardo, who not infrequently conferred feminine traits and gestures on his male figures.

The gender ambiguity detected in the early sixteenth-century portrait is, to a certain extent, undermined by the title given by Duchamp to the work itself. LHOOQ it is an insulting quip: read quickly, the title sounds like “Elle a chaud au cul” [She has fire in her ass]. How to combine the androgynous aspect of the figure with a title that reveals a vulgar view of female sexuality? According to Ronald Kuspit, the letters that make up the title become words carrying “a derogatory male comment about the beautiful honorable woman – she is nothing but a bitch. She is smiling because she is thinking about getting fucked – or, more likely, about masturbating, that is, about fucking herself”. Another reading can be suggested for the title. As a good parody, it would be distinguished by the relegation of the motif of the idealized woman to a debased figure, capable of jeopardizing the principle of a supposed universal beauty.

The treatment given to the figure of da Vinci, when compared with the stagings of Rrose Sélavy, does not help to dispel the doubt, since idealization is an integral part of the parodies of the female double. This different register can be evidenced by two other portraits of the alter ego duchampiano, which are variants of the most celebrated image. In the first, Duchamp keeps the same clothes, but the position of the hat reveals the presence of a thick eyebrow, incompatible with a seductive female figure. The coquettish pose is, however, maintained, as well as the elusive smile. The oval portrait, placed in an equally oval frame, which characterizes the second variant, is even more significant, as it is known that it was manipulated by Duchamp himself. He intervened in the printed copy with touches in ink and pencil to soften Rrose Sélavy's appearance and make it more in line with the portraits of celebrities published by the main magazines of the time.

The second parodic aspect of Duchamp's female double can be analyzed from Garber's considerations on the cultural effect of cross-dressing. The author recalls that this contests and discusses the dividing line between gender and sexuality, postulated by feminist theories. The cultural effect of transvestism implies the destabilization of all binary divisions (male/female, gay/heterosexual, sex/gender). Presenting himself as a “third party”, the transvestite becomes involved in a complex interchange, in a slippage and in a “parodic recontextualization of gender indicators and categories”, typical of his fantasy. Unlike the transsexual, who can take such fantasy literally, altering his own body, the transvestite dominates it, often in a ritualistic way, making use of the “rhetoric of clothing, name, performance or action”.

By proposing the figure of the artist as a transvestite, Duchamp intends to discuss the problem of the social imaginary, but his action seems to go beyond this aspect, if we recall another staging by Rrose Sélavy, which integrates the assisted ready-made Belle haleine. Eau de voilette, also made in 1921. With the collaboration of Man Ray, the artist appropriates a perfume bottle eau de violette, created in 1915 by the Rigaud fashion house. It inserts a portrait of Rrose Sélavy, whose mirrored initials, which take the place of the perfumer's R, stand out on the label between the name of the fragrance – Belle haleine. Eau de voilette (which replaces the originals Un air qui embaume. eau de violette) – and the cities of New York and Paris, to indicate the locations of its performance. Conceived, at first, as a collage, which had its dimensions reduced when affixed to the perfume bottle, the label brings an image of Duchamp's female double different from those analyzed so far. The hat is replaced by a velvet beret, which partially covers the eyes, giving them a fleeting expression. In place of the fox fur collar, there is an arrangement of puffed fabric, which hints at a necklace. The masculine aspect of the face is well pronounced, creating a stark contrast between a clumsy female image and the seduction inherent in wearing the perfume. The effect of an uncertain female reference is reinforced, ironically, by the Rrose Sélavy signature, very evident in the retro of the box that contains the bottle.5

The shuffling of categories is not the only determining aspect of the work, whose figure was recreated in 1990 by the Italian painter Carlo Maria Mariani. In 1919/1990, the representative of the trend known as “cultured painting” is simultaneously inspired by the Rrose Sélavy of Belle haleine. Eau de voilette and Duchamp's intervention in LHOOQ More sculptural than pictorial, Rrose/Mona Lisa has undeniably masculine features, although her pose evokes da Vinci's painting and the clothing used recalls the photograph of the perfume bottle. The idea of ​​an unstable identity, in transit, is the guiding thread of the painting, in which Mariani mobilizes several aspects of her poetics: discussion of the ideas of beauty and imitation, estrangement, art as an enigma, allusion (and not simply citation), among others. others.6

According to Amelia Jones, the two public stagings of Rrose Sélavy – on the cover of new york dada and on the perfume bottle label – constitute, at the same time, a gesture of valorization of the “products” and a “multiple fetish”: “photographic image as a fetish; woman as image as fetish; woman as merchandise as fetish; perfume and magazine as commodity fetishes; Duchamp/author as fetish; new york dada as a historical-artistic fetish”. With this iteration, the author wishes to draw attention to Duchamp's “best lesson”: there is no way to escape the circuit of desire mobilized by commodity culture. Apparently, he decides to celebrate the “feminization” of subjectivity – its openness to sexual and gender flows – feared by patriarchy as an embodiment of the commodification of everyday life. O alter ego Rrose Sélavy is related, therefore, to the association between commodity culture and femininity, which becomes dominant in the second decade of the XNUMXth century. Female bodies become bearers of commercial values ​​in advertising, fueling growing anxiety about the collapse of individualism and the threat to masculinity following the emergence of the ambiguous figure of the “new woman” or boyish. The “dangerous, even masculinized, eroticism of the New Woman marked the collapse of boundaries between man and woman – and those separating the 'separate spheres' that had kept 'respectable' women out of the public arena in the XNUMXth century”.

Jones' hypothesis is stimulating, as it allows analyzing another use of parody by Duchamp. The artist, within this perspective, would be making use of the visual codes mobilized by the cultural industry for an ironic contestation of its processes of commodification of life. By acting in this way, the female double reveals a social context in which the incentive to consume is inescapably linked with the image of women. Josep Renau, when denouncing the process of falsification and concealment of the true purposes of advertising, did not hesitate to speak of “'dematerialization' of objects and industrial products” in order to create “a certain atmosphere of amiable 'idealization', of poetic unreality , sometimes". In this context, the female figure has become an eye-catcher since the beginning of the 1901th century, when the Kodak Girl (1920) was created, followed two years later by the Coca-Cola Girl. The association between consumption and sexuality, established in the XNUMXs with the testimonial stimulus of Hollywood divas, seems to be contested by the awkward figure of Rrose Sélavy on the perfume bottle label, which has nothing sublime or seductive. Compared to the world of advertising, Duchamp's expression on the perfume bottle is not just a contrast to the vitalism embedded in the name Rrose Sélavy (Eros c'est la vie), which points to the existence of a link between eros and life.7 It also acts against the grain of the idea of ​​seduction associated with Rigaud's perfume, as demonstrated by a graphic advertising piece, dated 1915. In it, a woman kneeling and half-naked is inhaling the fragrance that comes out in volutes from the perfume bottle, with an intoxication that suggests a deep enjoyment.

It remains to verify another hypothesis, suggested by Giovanna Zapperi: that Duchamp's femininity would be derived from two historical attributes of dandyism, indifference and artificiality. This idea, only stated by the author, deserves to be deepened based on one finding: the phenomenon does not apply to women, whose fatuity – a form of human vanity and, therefore, universal – is distinguished from the “high fatuity” of the dandy. It is a very particular form of vanity, made up of signs whose impact is inseparable from a dominant “manner”. An ingrained vanity, which defies the censorship of moralists, fashion as an instrument to express one's own anarchy, frivolity as a challenge to moral attitudes, the search for instantaneous effect, the refusal of dogmas and injunctions, the taste for staging and coldness are some distinctive signs of dandies, which integrate a collage of moods and positions thanks to which the subject's singularity is affirmed.

Dandyism, which is seen by narrow minds as the art of neatness, as “a happy and audacious dictatorship in terms of toilet and external elegance”, is much more than that. In Barbey d'Aurevilly's definition, it is a way of being, made entirely of nuances, whose starting point is modern boredom. It is the production of the unforeseen. It is a constant game with the social rule circumvented and respected at the same time, invoked and evaded. It is counterfeit grace to be better appreciated in a false society.8 Object of a “decent voyeurism” in a puritanical society like that of nineteenth-century England, dandyism can be considered a game “on the outer limit of conveniences”. That is, the dandy dominates society as long as he submits to two types of rules: social, inherited and heavy, and his own, full of grace. A mixture of connivances and pretense, the dandy's game is a cult of difference in the century of uniformity and massification. In his own way, the dandy is a poet, a man gifted with fantasy, capable of transforming his own person and life into art.

It can be seen from these characteristics that Duchamp's ambiguous play as Rrose Sélavy falls and does not fall within the scope of dandyism. Despite presenting some characteristics that would bring him closer to dandyism – unexpectedness, game, staging, confusion between life and art –, one cannot forget that his gesture is much more radical, as it consists in displacing social values ​​to reach nothingness, the a-art and the a-moral. In that sense, it goes beyond the attitude of one of the most perfect incarnations of dandyism, Oscar Wilde. The conception of an amoral art, made of frivolity, paradox and lies, is accompanied by the writer's defense of categories that the French artist clearly repudiates: genius and good taste.

The denial of artistic and social values ​​did not prevent Duchamp, even by default, from becoming a reference figure for XNUMXth century artists, challenging a characteristic of dandyism: sterility. Taking only Rrose Sélavy as a parameter, there is no doubt that Duchamp gave rise to a long chain of artistic proposals obsessed with a “desire for fusion: the 'self' as 'other', the self as double”. To the names remembered by Ardenne – Pierre Molinier, Luciano Castelli, Urs Lüthi, Michel Journiac, Jürgen Klauke, Rainer Fetting, Salomé, Yasumasa Morimura, Olivier Rebufa –, who are distinguished by their transforming games, based on the imitation of “sexual inversion”, must necessarily be added that of Andy Warhol, author of self-portraits such as drag queens (1980, 1981-1982) and Chris Makos model in photo shoot Altered image (1981), in which femininity is placed under the sign of parody.9

By assuming the role of Rrose Sélavy, Duchamp invested in the possibility of self-invention, which allowed him to contrast the banality of modern life, the traditional view of the feminine and mass culture and its stereotypes. As radical as her proposal may be, her transvestite body is, however, an “interval experience”, a simulation game, which puts social and artistic categories to the test, but not a way of life as in the case of Choisy and d'Eon. If Rrose Sélavy is a game with sexual identity and the commodification of the female figure by capitalism, the game between Choisy and d'Éon has other implications, if it is remembered that, in both cases, there were episodes of forced feminization. Choisy's feminization in childhood cannot be dissociated, at least in part, from a perverse courtship game: he was supposed to be the companion of Louis XIV's younger brother, Philip of Orleans, known as "Petit Monsieur", also raised as a woman. in order not to dispute power with the king and not to threaten the exercise of his sovereignty. In Memoires pour à l'histoire de Louis XIV, Choisy remembers that his mother dressed him in women's clothes and adorned him with earrings, diamonds and spots on the occasion of visits by the king's brother. "Petit Monsieur" was also dressed in women's clothing before playing with his friend, but Cardinal Mazarin's stratagem failed to make him effeminate. When it was necessary to fight for France, the Duke of Orleans was capable of staying fifteen hours on top of a horse, obeying the King's orders and "exposing all his beauty to a sun that did not spare him".10 Louis XVI, in turn, forced d'Éon to adopt women's clothing for a strategic reason. In 1764, the knight had published a book with his diplomatic correspondence, creating serious embarrassments for George III in England and Louis XV in France. Since d'Éon held many dangerous secrets, the sanction imposed for his return to his native country is an excellent index of the view of women in eighteenth-century French society. Identified as a woman, the knight could not be imprisoned in the Bastille, as his strange behavior could be attributed to a “hysterical” temperament. This allowed the court to deny any compromising revelation, as it would come from a person devoid of credibility due to his pathology...

* Annateresa Fabris is a retired professor at the Department of Visual Arts at ECA-USP. She is the author, among others, of Photography and the crisis of modernity (C/Art).

Revised and expanded version of the paper “Identity and disguise: the transvestite body”, published in the Electronic Annals of the XXII State Meeting of History of ANPUH-SP. Saints 2014.

References


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AUREVILLY, Barbey d'. “Dandyism and George Brummel”. In: VA the dandyism. Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 1974, p. 133-134, 136-140, 152, 158, 183. BALZAC, Honoré de. “Treatise on the Elegant Life”. In: ______. Treatises of Modern Life. Trans. Leila de Aguiar Costa. São Paulo: Estação Liberdade, 2009, p. 73.

“Chevalier d'Eon”. Available in: . Accessed on: 18 Apr. 2014.

CHOISY, François Timoléon, abbé de. Memoires pour à l'histoire de Louis XIV. Clermont-Ferrand: Paleo Editions, 2008, t. 1, p. 153; t. 2, p. 141-142, 149-151.

CHOISY, Abbé de. Memories of the abbot of Choisy dressed as a woman. Trans. Leonardo Fróes. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 2009, p. 11-12, 27-28, 58, 109, 113.

CLOTAS, Salvador. “The dandyism of our time”. In: VA the dandyism. Barcelona: Editorial Anagrama, 1974, p. 10-13, 16.

FABRIS, Annateresa. “The Island of Happiness through the lens of Karl Marx”. In: CHEREM, Rosângela; MAKOWIECKY, Sandra (eds.). Modern-contemporary articulations. Florianópolis: UDESC/PPGAV, 2011, p. 32, 49.

FOSTER, Hal. What comes after farce?: art and criticism in times of debacle. Trans. Celia Euvaldo. São Paulo: Ubu Editora, 2021, p. 64, 68.

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Notes


[1] According to Leonardo Fróes, Choisy was named Countess des Barres in 1670 and Madame de Sancy in 1673, although in the abbot's memoirs the two episodes are in reverse order.

[2] In Memoires pour à l'histoire de Louis XIV (1727), Choisy recalls that, at his mother's request, he wore women's clothing until he was eighteen. The author also refers to the comment of a lady, who attributed to him “three or four different lives, man, woman, always in an extreme way: applied either in study or in frivolities; appreciable for a courage that takes him to the end of the world, contemptible for a girlish coquetry; and, in all these different states, always driven by pleasure.”

[3] The life of the knight inspired the creation of the term “eonism” by the British physician and psychologist Havelock Ellis. Disagreeing with the terminology proposed by Hirschfeld in 1910, Ellis replaces it with “sex-aesthetic inversion” (1913) and “eonism” (1920). He defines the eonist as the embodiment, to an extreme degree, of the aesthetic attitude “of imitation and identification with the admired object. It is normal for a man to identify with the woman he loves. The aeonist takes this identification too far, stimulated by a feminine and sensitive element in himself, associated with an altered virility due to eventually neurotic causes”.

[4] In the novel L'affaire Nicolas LeFloch [The Nicolas Le Floch case, 2002], which has the year 1774 (January-August) as a time parameter, Jean-François Parot describes d'Éon as an “androgynous beauty”, made of contrasts. Heard from a distance, her “dry and heavy” steps ruled out that she could be a representative of the “beautiful sex”. Dressed as a woman and presenting himself as Mademoiselle d'Éon, the knight wore the cross of Saint Louis around his neck and wore the boots of a dragoon officer. His face, excessively made up, resembled that of actors before entering the scene and was crowned by a lace cap. His handshake was "frank and sincere." She left the room where she had met Commissioner Le Floch with “hurried steps”, in a “great heap of fabrics”.

[5] According to Hal Foster, the piece is "the sublimated opposite of his famous chamber pot – with associations of perfume instead of piss, femininity instead of masculinity, refinement instead of vulgarity, enigma instead of obviousness". The puns used by Duchamp suggest that, “despite the egalitarian pretension of ready-mades, in a capitalist economy that requires such categories, art will continue to be a magical elixir – the breath of genius, the artist’s aura or […] the perfume of gods”. In addition, the artist also implies that “art can only play its role if it is, in some way, veiled”.

[6] Before Mariani, other artists established a dialogue with Belle haleine. Eau de voilette. In the 1930s, Joseph Cornell made the collage poetry of surrealism, in which an elegant young woman can be seen enclosed in a bottle of perfume, pulling a string to lift a butterfly up to a red cork. According to Dickran Tashjian, the grace of this improbable gesture stands in sharp contrast to the hilariously scathing image of Duchamp dressed as a woman. Amelia Jones, in turn, recalls Homage by Andy Warhol to Rrose Sélavy. belle haleine (1973), in which the American artist appears wearing a striped coat and a huge afro wig, surrounded by a group of girls (or men in drag?).

[7] Foster believes that the work also points to Duchamp "passing as a Jew (homonymically as Rose Halévy)".

[8] A different view of dandyism had been proposed by Honoré de Balzac in the treaty of elegant life (1830). The writer defines it as “a heresy of elegant life”, “an affectation of fashion”. His considerations are quite harsh, since the dandy is presented as “a bedroom furniture, an extremely ingenious mannequin who can ride a horse or a settee, who habitually bites or sucks the tip of a cane, but a thinking being… never ! The man who sees only fashion in fashion is a fool. The elegant life excludes neither thought nor science: it enshrines them. It must not only teach how to take advantage of time, but how to use it in an extremely high order of ideas”.

[9] For an analysis of the series, see: FABRIS, Annateresa. “From Shirley Temple to the 'Altered Image': Andy Warhol and Some Uses of Photography”. In: ______. Photography and visual arts. Mexico: Ediciones Ve, 2017, p. 133-151.

[10] Choisy also highlights a case where the female disguise was used for political reasons. During the “Fronde of the Princes” (January 1650-February 1651), the Marechale de Guébriant had resorted to a stratagem to save the lives of the four children of her friend Eleonor de Bergh, Duchess of Bouillon: she disguised them as girls, but it did not manage to make them behave in accordance with the new condition. As they were playing at war, having attracted the attention of a gardener working nearby, they were transferred to Blois, always in disguise. One of them fell ill and Madame de Fléchine, who sheltered them, had to tell the doctor the truth, although the beauty of the face and the delicacy of the boy's features could deceive the others.

 

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