It was reported recently that Sussex based artist, Sarah Pager, had created a toilet made completely of milk chocolate which she displayed in a local art gallery. She hoped to sell it for over £3,000. The artist chose to make it out of chocolate because of its smell and colour and she was, “interested in issues surrounding the body and the body process.”
Of course she is not the first artist to use the bathroom for inspiration for her art. As Ms Pager herself identified the bathroom is a place where you are at your most natural and yet it is also a place of civilisation.
It doesn’t take much searching on the web to find pictures of bathrooms that you can buy as prints or posters.
They usually depict idealised Victorian bathrooms with vintage, roll top baths, solid basins and elegant bathroom mirrors.
Picture perfect bathrooms are the order of the day in these pictures. You can’t imagine anyone ever using these bathrooms and getting them dirty.
But paintings of bathrooms and baths have not always been idealised.
Death of Marat
One of the most iconic portraits of someone in the bath is David’s The Death of Marat. Marat was a French revolutionary leader who was murdered in his bath.
Marat had a skin condition which led him to work from his bath. He was discovered there by his political enemy Charlotte Corday who stabbed him.
David depicts Marat’s naked vulnerability as he lies in the bath with unfinished work in his hand. In the bath we are all defenceless and are as exposed as we were on the day we were born.
It is a troubling portrait and probably not one to put on the bathroom wall.
At the National Portrait Gallery at the moment, as part of the Cultural Olympian festival is an exhibition of the British artist Lucien Freud’s work.
He painted all sorts of people from the Queen to a benefits supervisor sleeping.
One of his most notable works is a self portrait from the early fifties that he painted in a bathroom belonging to the James Bond author Ian Fleming.
He has retired to the bathroom during a party and he stares pensively into the bathroom mirror.
It catches, perfectly, that moment of quiet you can feel in a bathroom, especially at a party, before returning back to the fun and the hurly burly.
When you behold yourself in the bath you may or may not feel you are a subject for art but art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.