Wednesday, February 24, 2010

DAMage Report - Art and Sex

To see the Klimt, you gotta wade through the sex. Literally. It is highly entertaining and not a little ironic that a museum is forcing interested audiences to face the topic of sex and art without blinders. By displaying a renown work by Gustav Klimt inside a Swingers' Sex Club, they are reinforcing the subject matter that the artist addressed with his piece: sex.

Some artists and their works become so famous that often the initial impact of the work, the artistic intent is lost. Klimt was a controversial painter for his time and often addressed the topic of sexuality. But Klimts have become so popular that there isnt a dorm room in america that doesn't have The Kiss or one of his other famous works hanging from the wall. Just like musicans cringe at becoming musak, artists cringe at becoming sofa paintings. Fame is nice, but there is something nightmarish about having your creative efforts reduced to background noise and background visuals. We no longer SEE or HEAR the art.

The Secession - a world-renowned art venue in Vienna  has incorporated a sex club as part of an art project by Swiss artist Christoph Buechel. It is a bit of a shame that the swingers aren't there during the day, but their mattresses, erotic pictures, bar and whirlpool are, creating a hedonistic atmosphere that art lovers have to walk through in order to view Klimt's famous "Beethoven Frieze" which caused a scandal when first exhbited in 1902. "Considered one of the Austrian painter's key pieces, it was once thought of as obscene and pornographic because of the way women's bodies were depicted."

Museums around the world carry art that deals with the topic of human sexuality, but we often obfuscate or disregard the message of the art in order to maintain a displaced sense of propriety. We can shuffle past gorgeous Modigliani nudes in the museum and make appropriate sounds of ohhhh and ahhhh, without considering what the artist was trying to say with his sensual nudes and how it reflected a wildly bohemian era in Paris.

By forcing the public to trapse through a sex club, the artist and the museum are forcing eyes wide open. You might be able to view the Klimt in ignorance, but you can't step over the condoms without at least lifting your foot high.,0,5191713.story

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