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MUSEUM

GALLERY: Paris museum opens male nude exhibit

The Musée d'Orsay in Paris, known for its traditional masterpieces, opened a controversial exhibition this week featuring nothing but male nudes through the ages. For those who can't make it or simply can't wait here's a few glimpses of what to expect.

GALLERY: Paris museum opens male nude exhibit
A curious visitor to the "Masculin/Masculin" exhibit at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, surveys "Vive la France", by Pierre and Giles. Photo: German4/Youtube

Juxtaposing traditional painting and sculptures with contemporary homoerotic photography, a museum better known for its impressionist masterpieces has brought together more than 200 pieces in a collection designed to stimulate and amuse in equal measure.

"It is an exhibition that doesn't take itself too seriously," Guy Cogeval, the museum's president and one of the curators of the exhibition, told AFP.

Entitled "Masculin/Masculin", the collection features 70 paintings, around 20 sculptures and numerous photographs. It is due to run until January 2nd.

Inspired by a similarly-themed exhibition staged by Vienna's Leopold Museum in Autumn 2012, the Orsay display aims to offer an insight into how ideals of the male body have evolved over the last two centuries.

The male nude, Cogeval believes, is "no longer possible to ignore", and the Orsay programme features many staunchly heterosexual artists such as Angel Zarraga, Paul Flandrin, Jacques-Louis David and Anne Louis Girodet celebrating men at their most natural.

"It's male beauty in all its glory," he said.

And with so much 'glory' on show The Local has put together a few images from the exhibition for those who may not be able to make it to Paris or for those who simply can't wait. Click below.

Take a virtual stroll around the "Masculin/Masculin" exhibit


The exhibit "juxtaposes traditional painting and sculptures with contemporary homoerotic photography." Photo: German4/Youtube

Organisers are braced for the possibility of controversy, particularly as the exhibition also features nude representations of Christ and the arrow-studded body of the early Christian martyr Saint Sebastian.

"Showing the extent to which an (image of) a religious figure like Saint Sebastian can be ambiguous about the line between pain and pleasure is entering very intimate territory and that could trouble or shock certain visitors," co-curator Xavier Rey acknowledged.

Cogeval is resigned to losing a section of the museum's usual audience but is hopeful that most visitors will come with an open mind. "I think the exhibition is so beautiful that I believe it will win them over," he said.

For more information on the exhibit visitthe Musée d'Orsay's website by CLICKING HERE.

What do you see? Beautiful works of art from down through the ages? Or nothing more than a load of naked men?

Join the conversation in the comments section below.

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ARCHITECTURE

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles

Rising high beyond an ancient Roman arena in Arles, a tall, twisted tower created by Frank Gehry shimmers in the sun, the latest futuristic addition to this southern French city known for its World Heritage sites.

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles
Gehry's Luma Tower opens in Arles, France. Photo: H I / Pixabay

The tower, which opens to the public on Saturday, is the flagship attraction of a new “creative campus” conceived by the Swiss Luma arts foundation that wants to offer artists a space to create, collaborate and showcase their work.

Gehry, the 92-year-old brain behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, wrapped 11,000 stainless steel panels around his tower above a huge glass round base.

It will house contemporary art exhibitions, a library, and offices, while the Luma Arles campus as a whole will host conferences and live performances.

From a distance, the structure reflects the changing lights of this town that inspired Van Gogh, capturing the whiteness of the limestone Alpilles mountain range nearby which glows a fierce orange when the sun sets.

Mustapha Bouhayati, the head of Luma Arles, says the town is no stranger to
imposing monuments; its ancient Roman arena and theatre have long drawn the
crowds.

The tower is just the latest addition, he says. “We’re building the heritage of tomorrow.”

Luma Arles spreads out over a huge former industrial wasteland.

Maja Hoffmann, a Swiss patron of the arts who created the foundation, says
the site took seven years to build and many more years to conceive.

Maja Hoffmann, founder and president of the Luma Foundation. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Aside from the tower, Luma Arles also has exhibition and performance spaces in former industrial buildings, a phosphorescent skatepark created by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A and a sprawling public park conceived by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets.

‘Arles chose me’

The wealthy great-granddaughter of a founder of Swiss drug giant Roche, Hoffmann has for years been involved in the world of contemporary art, like her grandmother before her.

A documentary producer and arts collector, she owns photos by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus and says she hung out with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York.

Her foundation’s stated aim is to promote artists and their work, with a special interest in environmental issues, human rights, education and culture.

She refuses to answer a question on how much the project in Arles cost. But as to why she chose the 53,000-strong town, Hoffmann responds: “I did not choose Arles, Arles chose me.”

She moved there as a baby when her father Luc Hoffmann, who co-founded WWF,
created a reserve to preserve the biodiversity of the Camargue, a region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone river delta known for its pink flamingos.

The tower reflects that, with Camargue salt used as mural panels and the
delta’s algae as textile dye.

Hoffmann says she wants her project to attract more visitors in the winter, in a town where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

Some 190 people will be working at the Luma project over the summer, Bouhayati says, adding that Hoffman has created an “ecosystem for creation”.

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