French photographer and illustrator Jean-Paul Goude was called upon by Paper magazine to “break the Internet” with his nude photos of Kim Kardashian. But it appears that Goude has also prompted the Internet to break out its history books, tracing his photo of Kardashian's naked back to not only a 1976 photo he took of Carolina Beaumont called "The Champagne Incident" but also historical imagery steeped in racism. In both the Beaumont and Kardashian photos, each is holding a champagne bottle with a glass resting on their upturned backsides as the champagne shoots up in an arc from the bottle to the glass.
Goude rose to prominence as a photographer and illustrator for Esquire in the 1960s. But it was during the heydey of the disco era of the 1970s that he solidified his style: cartoonish, surreal and often racially problematic images of women's bodies.
His photography book “Jungle Fever” featured '70s disco icon Grace Jones, his then-lover, on the cover, in an image that shows her crouched inside a cage like a wild animal. “Blacks are the premise of my work,” he told People magazine in 1979. "I have jungle fever.”
Goude's "artistic history is fraught with justified accusations of objectifying and exoticizing black women’s bodies," Styleite wrote. "This isn’t a tangent of his work -- it’s what his entire oeuvre is built upon."
The Grio blogger notes that the Kardashian image recalls Saartjie Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus, a woman whose large buttocks caused her to be exhibited as a "sexual freak-show attraction" in 19th century Europe, "imagery that is steeped in centuries of racism, oppression and misogyny."
"People are looking at it like it's an edgy cover, but it's really a recycled image that perpetuates the fetishization of women's bodies, particularly women of color," said Melissa Hung, the founding editor of Hyphen, an Asian-American culture magazine that examines race, culture and politics. "Kim Kardashian is a white Armenian-American woman who's been fetishized for attributes that have been stereotyped as black."
When asked whether it made a difference in Kardashian's case that she seems to participate in her own fetishization and objectification, Hung said, "It doesn't lessen Goude's culpability. And is she aware of historical precedents of objectification in his work? Goude has been obsessed with making the bodies of women of color grotesque, exotic and weird for some time."
Kardashian wasn't paid for the Goude photo shoot, according to TMZ.