Sunday, February 17, 2013
Museum Visitors to Strip Naked
To View Exhibit on Naked Men
Vienna, Austria: The Leopold Museum signage installed by Ilse Haider is called “Mr. Big,” and you can see for yourself that Austrians are far less prudish about male full frontal nudity than the general public on this side of the pond. “Mr. Big” is a sign consisting of a series of four photo enlargements of a naked male model, placed at graduated heights one in front of the other.
Two posters announcing the Naked Men exhibit appeared last fall all around the city, one a naked self portrait by Egon Schiele*, the other incorporating full frontal nudity in a photo of three naked athletes.
*The Leopold Museum is known for its unrivaled collection of works by Austrian artist Egon Schiele.
Naked Men from 1800 to the Present
Leopold Museum in Vienna (Austria); Closed Tuesdays
According to the museum web site, the exhibit “spans the period from the Enlightenment in the 18th century until the present, supplemented by important reference works from ancient Egypt, Greek vase painting and works from the Renaissance. The presentation will show different artistic approaches to the subject, competing ideas of the ideal male model as well as changes in the concept of beauty, body image and values. Beginning with Ancient Greece as a standard and a pretense for later sexually explicit images, the exhibition then addresses the depiction of bathing men at the end of the 19th century. Another focus is on the nude self-portraits of the Expressionists Egon Schiele and Richard Gerstl as well as the change in the perception of naked men after 1945. On display are works by Albrecht Dürer, Peter Paul Rubens, Paul Cézanne, Auguste Rodin, Gustav Klimt, Edvard Munch, Giovanni Giacometti, Egon Schiele, Maria Lassnig, Andy Warhol, Alfred Hrdlicka, Günter Brus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring, Heimo Zobernig and others.”
Well, there you have it – and there’s still time. Originally scheduled to close on January 28, the wildly popular exhibit has been extended through March 4. Tongues are wagging, however, over the special after hours showing tomorrow night (February 18), during which the Leopold is inviting naked museum-goers inside to view the naked art. I’m not making this up. When you think about it, what could be more appropriate? A spokesman for the museum said, "If you are not a nudist, you are welcome to come clothed. But we don't want voyeurs, so it's better not to be clothed." Last December a German museum-goer was even inspired to imitate the art and strip naked while walking around the exhibition. Visitors appeared undisturbed, assuming he was part of the show.