from 4th October in front of the Leopold Museum
Ahead of the large-scale exhibition “naked men“ the Leopold Museum unveiled the walkable sculpture „Mr. Big“ by the Salzburg artist Ilse Haider (*1965) on 4th October in the inner courtyard of the MuseumsQuartier. The exhibition’s curators, Leopold Museum Director Dr. Tobias G. Natter and Dr. Elisabeth Leopold, took this opportunity to reveal first insights into the concept of the upcoming presentation “naked men“ .
THE FIRST “NUDE” IN THE MUSEUMSQUARTIER – MORE AT THE LEOPOLD MUSEUM FROM 18TH OCTOBER
The exhibition “naked men”, an upcoming major exhibition at the Leopold Museum is already making waves. at the Leopold Museum, which comprises artworks from all over Europe and the US, affords interesting insights into the abundance and diversity of male nudes in art, with a special emphasis on the period from 1800 to the present.
Up until now, depictions of “naked men” have rarely featured in museums, rarer still in a related context and almost never in an explicit manner. However, this underexposure is in no way due to any shortage of male nudes, either in past or contemporary art.
The Leopold Museum wants to close this gap with its large-scale presentation “naked men”, which comprises an impressive range of artworks. The exhibition’s curators Tobias G. Natter and Elisabeth Leopold are keen to show the different artistic approaches to the subject, to reveal competing ideas about masculinity, changing body, beauty and value concepts, the political dimension of the body as well as the breach of conventions.
The larger-than-life sculpture „Mr. Big“ by the Salzburg artist Ilse Haider is the first work from the exhibition to be shown in public. The 2006 sculpture, which was originally intended to be displayed inside, has already caused a stir at previous presentations (Galerie Steinek 2006, Galerie der Stadt Fellbach/ Stuttgart 2010, Museum of Modern Art Rupertinum Salzburg 2011). Now it has been adapted by the artist to be displayed outside in the courtyard of the MQ.
At the start of the presentation “naked men” on 8th October 2012, „Mr. Big“ will be moved inside to form part of the exhibition’s prologue.
ILSE HAIDER’S MR. BIG INTERACTION IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE
For Leopold Museum Managing Director Peter Weinhäupl, the installation in the courtyard sends “an important message to the public. A targeted use of art in the public sphere serves to enliven the cultural space, while the highest quality of the artworks has to be the main priority. We would like to thank the MuseumsQuartier for helping us with the realization of this project”. Visitors can interact with „Mr. Big“ on different levels within the public sphere: Broken up into various segments, the image of the male youth protrudes into space. As the artwork is walkable, visitors can wander around the installation or walk in the spaces between the individual segments. The three-dimensional effect created by the different layers, however, can only be perceived from a central perspective.
PLAYING WITH CLASSICAL EXAMPLES
The sculpture has been erected in front of the steps leading up to the Leopold Museum. This positioning behind the MQ’s water feature is an allusion to classical art historical examples.
„Mr. Big’s“ pose is reminiscent of antique statues, evoking the river gods of Greek and Roman mythology or the relaxed attitude of the Hellenic sculpture of the sleeping “Barberini Faun“.
CRITICISM AGAINST IDEAS OF MASCULINITY
This larger-than-life depiction of a reclining male nude is one of a series of works by Ilse Haider that saw her turn photographs into sculptures. Along with the interest in the depiction, the desire and the appropriation of the image by the artist and the beholders, Haider’s main aim is to level criticism against prevailing ideas of masculinity. The concepts of man and masculinity are rendered as an oversized projection surface, as an idealization and expression of narcissistic self-centeredness. The sculpture’s colossal size serves to highlight the ambivalence of the cultural construction of masculinity – monumental and highly desirable on the one hand, and aloof and self-centered on the other. The appropriation of the figure by the artist and the visitors undermines this idealization in a sensual manner. For audiences can not only interact with the sculpture in front of it, but also on it and inside it. There are paths between the sculpture’s individual segments which invite viewers to enter „Mr. Big’s“ body and to sit on it. The resulting images as seen from the front become the subject of photographic stagings, as visitors pose on the man while taking photographs of each other. Beholders engage with the man, with the heroic, withdrawn, unattainable construct, first interacting with it visually before entering it. Thus, the work constantly evolves, changing with the visitors, their actions and according to the perspective chosen to view this prototype and ideal image of a man.
Tobias G. Natter sees „Mr. Big“ also as a reminder of the relativity of beauty: “Visitors can approach „Mr. Big“ from many different angles, but only one of them will they perceive as ‘ideal’. For beauty always lies in the eye of the beholder.”