“Nackte Männer” in Art
“Naked Men” Exhibition
The more than 5,000 exhibits collected by Elisabeth and Rudolf Leopold (art collectors) over five decades were consolidated in 2001, with the assistance of the Republic of Austria and the National Bank of Austria, into the Leopold Museum Private Foundation, when the Museum opened.
Today, the Leopold Museum, housed in the Museumsquartier in Vienna, is home to one of the largest collections of modern Austrian art, featuring artists such as Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Richard Gerstl, and with the world’s largest Egon Schiele collection.
Since autumn of 2012, with the presentation “Nackte Männer” (“Naked Men”), a long overdue exhibition by the Austrian artist Ilse Haider, the museum is exhibiting diverse and changing depictions of naked men from 1800 to the present.
Thanks to loans from all over Europe, this exhibition offers an unprecedented overview of the depiction of male nudes, starting with the period of Enlightenment in the 18th century. The presentation focuses mainly on the time around 1800, on tendencies of Salon Art, as well as on art around 1900 and after 1945. At the same time, the exhibition also displays important reference works from ancient Egypt, examples of Greek vase painting and works of the Renaissance. Spanning two centuries, the presentation shows 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. The exhibition brings together nearly 300 works by almost 100 artists from Europe and the USA.
Due to striking success, the exhibition, meant to close on 21st January, was extended through 24 March 2013 and the museum also invited several nudist associations to come and spend an evening undressed in the museum. Life imitating art! The 18 February was chosen for this atypical evening with aficionados of naturism, so no need to do it behind closed doors, at least!
Below some picture of the exposition, if you want see them.
Of course, such a show could not pass unnoticed by inevitable moralists on duty and prudish people.
The promotional poster, featuring a photo called ‘Vive La France’ by French artists Pierre & Gille, and depicting three naked players stood on a pitch under a shower of confetti, immediately was censored after a series of complaints. The organizers agreed to cover up their privates, but in the absence of other, I thought they would have the balls to stand their ground.
Days before its debut, the visual advertisement made by a 13-foot full-frontal photo sculpture of a reclining naked man (called Mr. Big, by Ilse Haider), part of the provocative campaign to tease the launch of the exhibition, also was criticized.
Although the exhibition has caused considerable local controversy, it should get a positive judgment since until today, exhibitions on the subject “nudity” have dealt primarily with images of female nudes, while male nude, unlike ancient times, still is viewed with suspicion and considered more obscene than the female. Female nudes that radically overpower their male counterparts in most museums. Recently, the so-called “weenie counts”, conducted around the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, found that only 15% of nude forms in the museum were male. What’s the deal? An inexplicable human race’s contradiction, probably due to the evolution and civilization that anyhow makes no sense.
(Click on the image to magnify)