Sex Ed: Sexy Swingers in the Museum

Amy Keyishian

Look at my Klimt!
Photo from The Secession
Do you have trouble getting your husband to go to a museum with you? Well, what do you think he'd say to a museum full of sexy swingers -- that makes you walk right past their hot tub to get to the fine art?

A recent exhibition in Vienna did just that. The museum is called The Secession, and it was founded in 1897 by a group of artists who were sick of the stolid, conservative old guard of art -- and who wanted to raise a few eyebrows. Over the years, it's made a name for itself by showing art that some people consider controversial -- including early French Impressionists. (You know, like Monet. Believe it or not, this was once super-shocking.)

But this exhibit took the (erotic) cake!

One of the centerpieces of this museum is a mural by the artist Gustav Klimt called "The Beethoven Frieze." Its raw emotional power (not to mention boobs) created quite the scandal in 1902: It was called pornographic and obscene, something that's hard to understand today.

Artist Christoph Buchel wanted to re-create the scandal, so he came up with something that would raise even today's jaded, porn-addled eyebrows: Open a sex club in the museum. By day, the club would be closed, but the art would be available. By night, it'd be the other way around. Either way, you couldn't see one without being totally aware of the other.

It's not like blue-haired ladies were stepping over writhing, leather-clad bodies to get to the Klimt. Rather, they walked through a dark, empty club with scarlet walls, mattresses, erotic art, and a hot tub. What daytime patrons experienced was sort of leftover sex energy; what nighttime patrons experienced was … well, they weren't the point, really, but they got to have sex in a museum, which is kind of hot.

Nonetheless, people went nuts -- right-wing conservatives especially acted like the end of civilization was nigh -- and who knows if the real message got through. As with a lot of conceptual art, the main result was tons of media attention. Did anyone make the connection to the original exhibition? Um ... I did. And now you did too! So that's two.

Anyway, the exhibit ran from February 19 through April 18 and is over now, though you can still go to The Secession and see the Klimt (and a lot of other art) even without the sexy swingers.

It's all very clever, but is it art? Tell us in the comments!

Read More