Wednesday, 5 November 2014

'Sade - Attacking The Sun' - Musee D'Orsay, Paris

In Paris a couple of weeks ago, making the mandatory pilgrimage to Musee D'Orsay, and I stumbled on the Marquis de Sade exhibition on the ground floor. 'Ooer' I thought, and the poster by the entrance had a warning that the images might disturb or shock some people. Even more 'ooer'.

The first room was made up of highly packed video screens all showing different silent horror films that made it quite difficult to get inside and past the people clustering at each screen. Once through this room and the exhibition seemed strangely dark that I would classify as poor lighting rather than atmospheric (which it was probably meant to be). There was also an awful lot of reading on the walls, with quotes from Sade's writings on the walls and then text explaining them - even in English which is quite usual for a Paris exhibition.

It was a rather odd exhibition and I'm not quite sure what was meant to be shocking (although that might reflect on me rather than the exhibition). Yes there were paintings of a naked Judith killing Holofernes, lots of naked women generally but there are in any gallery, jagged modern paintings and the odd bit of sculpture, genitals on display in various states of arousal, blood and gore and so on. But this is 2014 and there are shocking paintings in every gallery, semi-naked and naked women everywhere, scenes and exhibitions of the horrors of war to commemorate 1914 and so on. The only difference seemed to be the dark lighting and the screeds of text on the walls.

It seemed to me that this was about the curator rather than Sade. It seemed to be saying 'look at the wide ranging influence of this brilliant thinker' but I just couldn't see it. It also seemed to go on forever with room after room of odd paintings and justifications for lumping them together in one exhibition. I sort of gave up around the middle of the exhibition when the curator reached the stage of '100 Days of Sodomy' and some strange quotes from Sade and a sign then said it was difficult to illustrate his writings at this point so here are some illustrations of dissected bodies that were popular at the time. What has a dissected body got to do with it? Stick to your themes, curator, or lose your audience.

I'm really not sure what this exhibition was meant to be about or what it was trying to tell me other than the curator has read all of Sade's writings and wants to show off. The only redeeming feature was this painting of 'War' by Rousseau that I've never seen before.

No comments: