Bad Girls: The Gallery
—E. Kline

Following is a list of unidentified or partially-identified background art shots from Bad Girls, Series 1-3. If you have any info, please get in touch, this gallery is here to help us all fill in the blanks.

We suspect there might be issues around the reproduction of paintings—rights/royalties, international copyright laws, or both—but not being television insiders, we can't know for sure. So a working hypothesis is that many of these aren't actually paintings by 'famous' artists but rather works 'in the style of'. If that's the case there's no way to identify the pieces, but it'd be nice to know for sure.

We also aren't major technogeeks: we've done the best we could to make what we are pointing to reasonably clear... beyond that, we're not able to further enhance the images. You've got your own DVDs, people, you know what to do.

connect the dots for us...

 


"Some woman"
S1ep9 20.04
details


the head thang
S1ep10 32.03
details


Helen's tapestry
S2ep13
details


Helen with Thomas
S3ep12
details


 

"Hang on, it's for you—some woman."

The much-adored Sean telling Helen what she already knows (a useful function the men in Helen's life all seem to perform around the question of Nikki).

Anti-Rodin argument

Some viewers believe this is a drawing by Rodin; he has a series of nudes including lesbian pairs, but extensive web searches haven't turned up 'the' drawing. Surely this should be an easy question to settle if it's really a Rodin. Fans are tickled by the idea that Helen's apartment might sport lesbian art. The idea has appeal but is not persuasive: Helen's apartment feels warm & lived-in with a lot of vibrant colors, but her decoration feels of the moment: we imagine her going to a show or gallery, seeing something she likes and buying it: there's no overriding design or thematic coordination here,
  the accents are emotional. As well, I'm not convinced the subject matter is two women: traditional dark/light oppositions are usually male/female, and I can't make out the figures well enough to tell. —ek

Pro-Rodin argument

My lack of art history knowledge makes me hesitate before saying this painting is by Rodin.  However, to me the painting looks like two women (or two androgynous figures) and it is noteworthy that Helen just happened to pick out a semi-erotic painting with two women in it to hang in her apartment.  She thinks nothing of it, but it's a message from her subconscious.  And it's no accident that this is the painting literally hanging over her head when Nikki calls, which is, in essence, the first time Nikki "enters" her apartment. —jt


 

"She won't try it again."

Ok, I'm a deviant: the first time I made out this image clearly I broke into gales of laughter: odds seemed very good this was Salome with John the Baptist's head.

If so, however, it should've been easy to find the artist; it wasn't. The longer I looked at it, the more I realized there was

 
  another, perhaps better option: this could also be Judith with the head of Holofernes. After all, rather a hero who takes down tyrants than a vengeful, wronged woman. Judith may be a thematically better fit (although a bit less ha-ha), but the artist's proven no easier to find. —ek


 
 

Helen's tapestry

(We really don't think y'all need help locating this shot.)

Obviously it's medieval, perfect imagery to represent their first night together, where Nikki enters Helen's space, and Helen enters Nikki's world. One fan comments: it probably isn't earlier than the thirteenth century (the forms are fairly realistic) or later than the fifteenth (no perspective), and guesses the subject matter is a scene from the New Testament, either the annunciation of the birth of Christ by the angels to the shepherds or the adoration of the Messiah by the shepherds.

  Another fan sent some helpful shots with more details of the tapestry, and provided the following background information and suggestions regarding dating:
  "The tulip is an Asian plant. It came to Europe in the second half of the sixteenth century; it first was brought to Austria and from there it was brought to the Netherlands in 1593 and only after it did spread further into Europe. If the
  tapestry would be from the 13th to 15th century then in my opinion it has to be of Asian origin; if one would think its origin is European then it only can be from the late 16th century or the early 17th century."
  She goes on to suggest although there are sheep in the tapestry [figures left], the figures with them don't seem to be shepherds.  The gowns they are wearing are much too splendid for shepherds.
 


 
 

Helen's Office, with Thomas

In episode 3.12, there are two notable posters behind Helen in her scene with Thomas. The first is Picasso's "Femme Assise dans un Fauteuil" (Woman Sitting in an Armchair), 1941. For those who like Picasso, perhaps it's not necessary to say more beyond: being able to enjoy Helen adorning a Picasso is reason enough to enter it in the Gallery.
 
Picasso's female forms are often distorted into shapes no human woman could possibly assume, or (in his cubist work) chopped up entirely and then reassembled into something barely recognizable. In addition, Picasso was known for obscuring the facial features of his models, in essence masking them. This makes his art particularly useful as a reflection of Helen's inner self. Helen's sense of herself has been distorted, chopped up and masked. Her journey in this last section of S3 is to figure out how to put her own pieces of herself back together, into a new form which is more authentically 'her' than she has ever been.*
  The second poster is from a Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibit that took place in 1986, called "From Two Worlds: Sixteen Artists of Non-European Background: 30 July - 7 September". Props to whoever did Bad Girls' props: the exhibit took place during a time when "outsider art"—a category including art by the self-taught, institutionalized, rural, or marginalized people from developing nations—was gaining serious critical attention, and is thus entirely fitting as a piece of background decoration in a prison office.
 
To us, the audience viewing a television show, the Helen we see in the show is art. The art in the background of her office is to her as she is to us: it's a direct analogy. Helen's office art is to Helen as Helen is to the audience.

If we 'read' the paintings as a sentence—viewed in the order first seen (i.e. not the 'order' they appear on, on the wall)—that sentence would be: The woman in the armchair is from two worlds. Chair = throne = ruler/gov of Larkhall = Helen. She just ended her relationship with Nikki. Now she is thinking about/starting one with Thomas. At this moment, Helen is from—and between—two worlds.

* Thanks to JT for this reading of the Picasso! 

 


 

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