Sunday, July 15, 2012

Museum Upset That Visitors Are Treating Its Peep Show As A Peep Show

It was supposed to be a tribute to a Renaissance master.

But the National Gallery’s latest exhibition – which features women recreating nude scenes from Titian’s paintings – is attracting a type of visitor not normally found in the capital’s cultural landmark.

Curators are disturbed at the plethora of ‘dirty old men’ who come to look through peepholes at the naked models, ignoring the masterpieces on the wall.

The Diana installation, part Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, was conceived by Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger, whose previous work includes a video of himself dressed as a bear wandering aimlessly around a gallery.

His piece is inspired by Titian’s Diana paintings, in which the hunter Actaeon stumbles upon the chaste goddess as she bathes.

Since the show opened last week, men have been sidling up to staff and asking for directions to ‘the peepshow thingy’.

One has visited five times in just seven days, while some older men have even complained to staff about the quality of the nudes – and the small size of the peepholes.

One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Daily Mail: ‘The gallery used publicity shots of the youngest and prettiest model, and dirty old men have got a bit aggressive that [most of the] models are women in their late forties and fifties.’

Another said: ‘We really have sunk to new lows with this idea. These visitors have no interest in art at all.’
(Full story here). What they are actually upset about is that it exposes the difference between "nude art" and "pornography" as a sham. That in practice the difference comes down to who views the subject ("intellectuals" and the wealthy versus blue collar workers) and where it is shown (an art gallery or performing arts center versus a strip bar).

Besides, the museum and "artist" have captured the essence of the myth. Actaeon didn't spy on Diana because he was admiring the lighting, or splendid use of color....

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