This Time We Asked For Love and Got It | Valentine’s Day 2023

By Emma Clarkson | February, 2023

We asked for love, and this time we got lots back. For the 2020 summer issue of See All This we asked artists, curators, writers, and more to tell us about their favourite, love-filled artworks. This Valentine’s Day, we are looking back at some of the responses which remain as poignant three years on.

Tracey Emin is turned on by Gustave Coubert

‘So sexy… I have been in a lot of trouble for loving this work. I even once said, there isn’t a heterosexual man in the world that doesn’t want to lay his head down there, many women too. I love the power it exudes. Intelligence, memory, love live in every part of our body. Courbet’s openness in his desire of her, leaves us weak with desire too. The title says it all, this painting is all about female strength – the origins of the world.’

Gustave Courbet, L’Origine du monde, 1866, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

Donna Tartt declares an unconditional love of Domenico  Ghirlandaio

‘Ghirlandaio’s 1490 painting An Old Man and his Grandson (Italian: Ritratto di vecchio con nipote). The love between these two figures is so calm and pure that even the deformed face of the old nobleman is transfigured.’

Domenico Ghirlandaio, An Old Man and his Grandson, c. 1490, tempera on wood, 62 x 46 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Birgit Donker is in love with Ed van der Elsken

‘Ed van der Elsken loved people, especially the people in this photo: his wife Anneke and their son Johnny. It hits you in the eye. Every time I look at this photo, there’s one thing I know for certain: I’m in love with all three of them.’

Ed van der Elsken, Anneke Hilhorst en Johnny, Edam, 1979, diapositive, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam

Sandro Veronesi takes the plunge with The Diver

‘Fool, what are you diving into! So carefree, so harmonious, so perfect, what are you diving into? Don’t you understand you’re about to be pulverized? You’ll be smashed, crippled, break all your bones. That open eye, that tiny white dot, is hardly visible (but how vital it is: take it away and both the painting and the dive become lifeless). That eye can’t protect you; at most it will let you glimpse your fate just before you plunge to your destruction. You know it yourself, actually. You know you have to dive in this way if it’s love: voluntary, radical, precipitate – and if it isn’t love, it’s not worth taking the plunge.’

Unknown, Tomb of the diver (detail), 480 BC, limestone, National Museum of Paestum, Paestum

Iris van Herpen dances with Edgar Degas

‘Degas’ works are really intimate. There’s a fragility and a strength at the same time – and I just love the romance as well. In dance there is such devotion; being a dancer really creates a devotion in life that goes beyond a profession. It’s like sacrificing your body to a higher cause, and I think that’s what’s being captured really beautifully in this painting, that devotion to the arts and the people in them.’

Edgar Degas, Dancer with Bouquets, c. 1895-1900, oil on canvas, 180.3 x 152.4 cm, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk


Header beeld: Constantin Brancusi, The Kiss, 1907-1908, plaster, 27.9 x 26 x 21.6 cm, Raymond and Paysy Nasher collection, Nasher sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas

Although See All This #18 is completely sold out, there is plenty of art to fall in love with in our other issues.
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