When “Masculin/Masculin,” the Musée d’Orsay’s show on the male nude, opened Monday evening, a young man strolled through the galleries totally nude. While some visitors may have thought it was a performance organized by the museum, this was not the case: the 26-year-old gay rights supporter and former art student decided on his own to strip down to his birthday suit, according to Le Figaro. After about five minutes, a museum guard politely insisted that he put his clothes back on, and the man, identified as Arthur G., complied.
When the Leopold Museum in Vienna put on a similar exhibition last year, it held a nudist after-hours viewing, which was attended by 200 naked men. Xavier Rey, co-curator of the Musée d’Orsay show, previously told BLOUIN ARTINFO that nothing like that was in the works: “It’s both acceptable and funny in Vienna but simply unthinkable in Paris.” Some critics have felt “Masculin/Masculin” to be too timid and academic in its treatment of nudity, so they may be grateful to Arthur G. for spicing things up.
The Musée d’Orsay incident is in striking contrast to what happened to South African artist Steven Cohen during a Paris performance two weeks ago. After appearing on the Place du Trocadéro in a corset and high heels with a ribbon connecting his penis to a live rooster, he was held and questioned by police for ten hours, according to Le Monde. He is to appear in court on December 16.
So Arthur G. made the right decision — nudity is much safer inside a museum.
— Céline Piettre