'Peep show' at National Gallery inspired by Titian

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A classically-inspired peep show has been set up in the middle of the National Gallery.

Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger took to Twitter to find six women, all called Diana, willing to take turns to be spied upon by the public while they sit naked in a mocked-up bathroom.

The work, also called Diana, is inspired by three paintings by Titian which form the centrepiece of the exhibition and features scenes from Greek mythology.

They tell the story of how the young hunter Actaeon stumbled upon Diana, the Goddess of the Hunt, bathing naked and was turned into a stag to be torn apart by his own dogs in revenge.

They are part of a series of six works created for King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century and were deemed so racy they were covered up with a curtain in the presence of the ladies of the court.

Visitors to Wallinger's work can look through peepholes, blinds and a keyhole to catch a glimpse of the women who perform the role of Diana working in two-hour shifts.

Wallinger said: "Diana is about watching and being caught in the act and evolved out of my desire to find a way of representing Diana bathing in a contemporary way."

He said there were very few rules for what his models could and could not do but they had to behave "suitably goddess-ish".

The artist, who hit the headlines when he submitted a film of himself dressed up as a bear to the Turner Prize exhibition, said he did not consider making a film for this exhibition.

He said: "I wanted a real naked person for people to have that relationship with."

He said finding his real-life Dianas was difficult, adding: "I did it initially through emails and contacts and then finally Twitter was the key that unlocked it."

Essex-born Wallinger is one of a group of artists, choreographers and poets challenged by the Trafalgar Square gallery to create something inspired by the trio of paintings.

Other works at the exhibition, sponsored by Credit Suisse, include a robot rescued from a Polish factory and programmed by Conrad Shawcross and placed inside a glass box.

The show, called Metamorphosis: Titian is on at the gallery from this Wednesday to September 23.

PA

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