Museum Incites Controversy with Male Nudity
Tags: Controversy, Museums, Nudity, Upcoming Exhibitions, Vienna
The Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria has incited a whirlwind of controversy with its most recent exhibition, “Nude Men from 1800 to Today.” The show, which aims to examine how artists have historically dealt with the theme of male nudity, has unintentionally adopted a second purpose: raising awareness on how contemporary society deals with the theme.
The artwork serving as the advertisement for the exhibition is at the center of the controversy. Vive La France by French artists Pierre & Gilles features three men in a soccer stadium wearing nothing but blue, white and red socks with soccer shoes. The full-frontal nudity enraged enough members of the Viennese community to cause the museum to add red censorship bands across the graphic material.
The museum was surprised at the complaints. Not only did Vienna embrace liberal art at the turn of the century (think Egon Schiele andGustav Klimt), but nowadays, citizens can spot female nudity at any given corner they turn: lingerie ads are racier than ever, and one popular paper regularly features semi-nude women.
Tobias Natter, the museum’s director, observed “that nobody gets offended by naked women, but with naked men: yes.” Museum officials pointed out that the complaints were generated mostly from outlying districts of Vienna that are heavily populated by Muslim immigrants.
Of the red tape, Natter said, “Some people will say, ‘What a shame. I want to see what’s under that. Others will say, ‘Let’s go to the museum. There we can see the original.’ And some will say, ‘That’s good. I don’t want to see that in the public space.’”
The exhibition opened Friday, October 20th and will run until January 28th, 2013.
Photo courtesy of