A month and a half ago, I thought my travel plans for 2012 were complete: All my trips were taken, save for the one at the end of the year, when I will escape the war zone that is Germany on New Year’s Eve.
Then I heard the news: naked men in a museum in Vienna!
A few days later my tickets were booked, hotel paid for, and dreams of perving on naked men in a fine museum setting.
The exhibition hit international news because the advertising for the exhibition, which was all over Vienna, was Viva La France, a luscious piece of art featuring three frontally nude soccer players.
It seems that the people of Vienna object to having naked men hanging out all over town, and so the public advertising was censored.
So seeing naked men was the second thing that I did in Vienna, the morning after eating at Das Lederer.
The exhibition covered the history of naked men in art starting in 1800, through current times, and included photography, painting, sculpture, and video installations.
I felt that the weakest link were the video installations, which consisted of a strange video with people in colorful full body suits tumbling over each other in front of a blue screen plus a set of videos secretly recorded inside a Hungarian bathhouse.
Beyond that, there were a number of interesting pieces – and discussion of how rare it is to find naked men in art, even as we have seen much representation of naked women in art. The exhibition took up more than an entire floor of the museum and was first thing on a Friday morning, relatively quiet – albeit a steady flow of people.
Aesthetically speaking, I would only actually want to put a relatively small subset of the art in my own apartment – nicely enough the main piece of art used to promote the exhibition is one of those pieces. There was another piece, a mannequin wearing a t-shirt that said “SALE” which spoke to my long-standing amusement of mannequins that are either completely nude or only partially dressed.
After wandering through the exhibition (and indeed the entire museum), I stopped by the gift shop where I found that I could buy the t-shirt from the mannequin – but was appalled at the price of the t-shirt – as I recall it now, it cost 75€.
Ultimately I bought the catalog for the exhibition (tasteful art for my coffee table) and the exhibition poster plus a poster tube to carry the poster home in. The poster is now at a nearby frame store being framed – which is going to cost me 94€. I don’t think that I have yet purchased a piece of art that cost more than the frame that I’ve put it in—the poster itself cost only 8€.