#1 Simone Veil
Simone Veil was born in Nice, France in July 13th, 1927. She was a survivor from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp where she lost part of her family; she is the Honorary President of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah. She was elected to the Académie Française in November 2008.
As a lawyer and politician, she was President of the European Parliament (1979-1982) and she is currently member of the Constitutional Council of France. She also served as Minister for Health (from 1974 to 1979) under Valéry Giscard d’Estaing Presidency.
As Minister for Health she initiated two major laws that would improve all Women’s life since then:
- Making access to contraception easier (4 December 1974)
- Legalizing abortion (17 January 1975). The discussion to pass the law within an assembly of macho deputies has been particularly hard for her. However, once the law passed the politician lauded her courage, commitment and determination
Prior to the abortion law a petition called “Manifesto of the 343 Sluts” was launched. The text of the manifesto written by Simone de Beauvoir was published in French magazine “Le Nouvel Observateur” April 5th, 1971. 343 famous or anonymous women have had the courage to sign the petition admitting they had an abortion and thereby exposing themselves to criminal prosecution up to imprisonment.
To me, this painting represents the freedom of women to control their own bodies. Armelle Falliex, Los Angeles, January 25th, 2015
What we do like here is the presence of two antagonist forces:
1° Before the 343 and the abortion law: the blood is spread all over the canvas and over the body, which obviously represents the blood from clandestine abortions.
2° After the 343 and the abortion law: the enormous number on the tummy is like protecting that woman from a bad surgery that would kill her.
Besides by drawing those nice breasts to her model, the painter wants to tell us that that woman is sexually free to “use” her body the way she wants. Also the absence of face is meant to tell us, that that woman could be any woman, not a specific one” BCh