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Feminist Art = Stephen Harper Nude

The painting above, for which Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper never posed, was motivated by the political frustration of Kingston, Ontario artist Margaret Sutherland.

The painting depicts Canada’s prime minister reclining on a chaise lounge, in nothing more than his birthday suit.


Sutherland says she was motivated to make the painting because of her frustrations with the Canadians government and it is meant to show that people need to look at issues for themselves without always believing the party line. Or so she says.

Sometimes what the artist says and the actual effect/meaning of the painting is very different. In this case I would argue its actually a statement about the history of men in politics.

In Canada there has only ever been 1 female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, was only in power for 4 months and 10 days. She wasn't elected either, she was appointed to the position by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney when he was on his way out in an effort to distance his unpopularity with the party in an effort to win the 1993 general election.

But that bid failed so badly that the Liberals were handed a landslide victory.

However Kim Campbell aside lets go back to the core concept. The Canadian leadership has been dominated by men, and in this case Stephen Harper is economically inept man who has followed a laissez-faire approach (do nothing and hope the problem goes away). He is a status quo prime minister who just wants to maintain the current standards, has no vision for the future, and kowtows to the Alberta oil industry.

Plus its basically a remake of Edouard Manet’s 1863 painting, Olympia, which depicted a prostitute in the pose of a Greek goddess. Manet's painting was a slap in the face of the art community of the time which was ultra conservative.

Conclusions? Making a remake of Olympia, itself a feminist piece, of Canada's inept prime minister draws attention to several factors:

#1. Stephen Harper thinks too highly of himself and this painting mocks his arrogance.

#2. Canada needs a more competent leader.

#3. Canada needs more women in politics (not necessarily the prime minister, but at least in parliament).

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