Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sex Sells Culture

A fascinating article in today's New York Times Style section, With Money Tight, Museums Take it Off, about several major European arts institutions mounting what could be considered risky exhibitions focusing on sex and nudes, expecting and getting blockbuster numbers.

The museums mentioned, the British Museum, Musee Jacquemart-Andre and the Musee d'Orsay all have deep collections of classical sculpture and paintings with erotic or semi-erotic content. The article is an interesting exploration of the marketing, financial and cultural considerations behind these shows. I think it's interesting, given the amount of porn that is easily available, that people still flock to these exhibitions. Why? Appreciation of an idealized figure is almost universal. Maybe it's the fantasy aspect or insight into the the tastes of other eras. I'm sure these shows would be a big hit in the US too.

Below is the video for the Musee d'Orsay's Masculin/Masculin (Warning male frontal nudity). Stay to the end to see model and paintings side by side. The tableau of Mercury and Paris at the end was also used in commercials and posters.

See also: Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art at the British Museum, and Desirs et Volupte: Victorian Masterpieces at the Jacquemart-Andre.

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