Tag Archives: Vienna

The Naked Man at the Met Gala (Mildly NSFW — Brief Nudity)

“Art Is Anything You Can Get Away With”

That quotation is frequently attributed to Andy Warhol, and it certainly sounds like something he would have said, but it was Marshall “The Medium Is the Message” McLuhan who actually coined the phrase.

Sometimes, for some artists, Art Is Anything…whether you get away with it or not.  Take Russian artist/provocateur Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich, for instance.

Here he is doing a performance piece called Os Caquis (The Persimmons), outside the School of Visual Arts in Rio de Janeiro in 2015.

That’s Pavlov-Andreevich, sitting naked on a tall plywood chair at the entrance to the museum. His assistant is offering very soft persimmons to the visitors, who are invited to throw them at the artist.

The goal?

“By the end of the performance the artist and the podium will all be covered in the orange pulp from the more or less successful attempts of the visitors to hit the artist.”

Ah! That explains it!

And then there’s Fyodor’s Performance Carousel-II, a hard-to-describe collaborative performative installation he orchestrated last year in Vienna.

This is all leading up to what happened last Monday night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Background

The Met Gala is the big annual fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. It’s an evening packed with celebrities—this year’s honorary chairs were Katy Perry and Pharrell Williams—and with the very, very rich.

Vogue editor Anna Wintour—the presumed model for the “Miranda Priestly” character in The Devil Wears Prada—is a trustee of the Met, and oversees the annual 700-person guest list. Those not on the list can buy individual tickets to the Gala for $25,000.

It was only $15,000 until 2014. They raised the price to keep out the riffraff.

Enter Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich

Fyodor’s most famous—maybe notorious is a more appropriate word—performance piece is called Foundling. Over the past two years, he’s staged it, uninvited, at art-related events in Venice, Moscow, London, and São Paulo. On Monday, 1 May 2017, he completed the five-part performance art project at the Met Gala in New York.

Foundling is easy to describe:  Fyodor gets completely undressed and curls up inside a clear plastic box. He’s tall, and it’s a tight fit. The box is then sealed and transported to the event du jour. The artist’s assistants deposit the box, and the naked artist within, at the selected site.

Here’s how it went down in New York:

The Aftermath

Despite the fact that the Gala attendees and staff shown in the video were amused rather than disturbed or offended, Pavlov-Andreevich was arrested on a bunch of bogus misdemeanor charges, including  public lewdness, criminal trespass, and disorderly conduct.

So much for New York’s celebrated reputation for sophistication and tolerance for eccentricity—the police were never called in at any of the previous four performances of Foundling, and Fyodor has never been arrested anywhere else.

The box remains in police custody. “If anyone cares about the box’ fate, it’s under arrest as well,” Pavlov wrote on Facebook.

Free Fyodor!  And free the box, too!  

Je suis Pavlov-Andreevich!

All photos and videos came from the artist’s website, linked above. It’s well worth a visit.


Vienna — Random Notes

  • On the way to Vienna, I had a layover in the Brussels airport, beginning ~7 AM.  Since I had three hours to kill, I wandered around the terminal, past the dining areas where people were enjoying their morning beer with breakfast.   I was back in Europe!
  • A lot of the signs in Vienna’s public places were in German, English, and…Russian.   This surprised me, until I remembered that Austria, a Western democracy, had been officially neutral during the Cold War.  (You won’t find much Russian signage in countries like Hungary and the Czech Republic and Poland, which were actually occupied by the late, unlamented USSR.)
  • Dogs are allowed almost anywhere, including restaurants,
  • The standard young male haircut is full on the top and v short on the sides, sort of like Cristiano Ronaldo’s current cut, but (usually) w/o the highlights.  It’s not a new look—I’ve seen variations of this in the US since at least last summer—but In Vienna, it was ubiquitous.

Cristiano Ronaldo, with This Week’s Haircut.

  • Austrians are neat.  I saw people accidentally drop waste paper, then stop and pick it up.  At the Christmas Markets, the outdoor tables all had ashtrays, so the cigarette butts wouldn’t be discarded on the ground.  Recycling bins are everywhere, and are used.
  • A shameful confession:  I can’t tell Baroque from Rococo.
  • The Vienna train and tram system is easy to navigate and magnificently efficient, much more so than Washington’s public transit.
  • The German word for butterfly is “Schmetterling.”   Butterfly sounds better.

Schmetterling Haus

  • Many German-speaking visitors flagrantly violated the “No Photography” warnings at various sites.  I was painfully law-abiding, which explains why so many of the Vienna pictures on this blog come from the web, instead of from my camera.  Warning to Millennials:  This is what happens to radicals and anarchists and liberationists when they get older.  Yep, even you.
  • Vienna in late November and early December is wet, cold, and…magnificent.
  • Biggest regret:  During the entire time I was Austria, I didn’t see a single kangaroo.

Kunsthistorisches Museum III — Bruegel

The paintings of Peter Paul Rubens that I love the most are massive and “operatic,”  depicting tremendous events from history and mythology.   My favourite paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder capture the small details of everyday life.

About 45 paintings have been authenticated as Bruegel’s work.  Kunsthistorisches Museum possesses a third of them, giving it the largest Bruegel collection in the world.  I spent close to an hour in the Bruegel gallery, finding something new in each picture every time I looked at it.

Here are some of the paintings in the museum’s collection:

x  Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_Children’s_Games_-_Google_Art_Project

Children’s Games

My long-time favourite.  This is the first Bruegel painting that hooked me.   I used it as my computer wallpaper for months.

x1280px-Pieter_Bruegel the_Elder_-_Hunters _in_the_Snow_(Winter) _Google_Art_Project

Hunters in the Snow

x  Carnaval  Carême_Pieter_Brueghel_l'Ancien

The Fight Between Carnival and Lent

x Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_The_Tower_of_Babel_(Vienna)_-_Google_Art_Project

The Tower of Babel

xxxx 1280px-Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder_-_Peasant_Wedding_-_Google_Art_Project

Peasant Wedding

Kunsthistorisches Museum II — Rubens

“Stendhal syndrome…is a psychosomatic disorder that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to an experience of great personal significance, particularly viewing art.”

I experienced this once.  It was in the Louvre, in a huge gallery filled w/the works of  Peter Paul Rubens.  I was…transported.

I knew before I went to Vienna that two of my favourite  artists were well-represented at the Kunsthistorisches Museum.   Rubens  was one of them.

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The Four Continents

xx  Rubens  - St Ignatius-the-miracle-of-saint-ignatius-loyola

The Miracles of Saint Ignatius Loyola

Peter Paul Rubens Philemon and Baucis

Philemon and Baucis

Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_The_Feast_of_Venus_-_ s

The Feast of Venus


Miracles of Saint Francis Xavier

Kunsthistorisches Museum I

My plan was to spend my last full day in Vienna at Kunsthistorisches Museum — the Art History Museum.  I knew from the start that a day would not be enough.

A year would not be enough.

That meant I had to prioritize ruthlessly, limiting myself to the Picture Gallery, which offers European art, and skipping the antiquities collections during this visit.   My first stop was the museum’s temporary Velázquez exhibition.

There was another, much smaller temporary exhibition that I’d been looking forward to:  “Arcimboldo:  Rediscovered” included two of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s “composite heads,” privately owned and shown to the public for the first time in their history.

The paintings turned out to be lesser works, but I’ve always been fascinated by Arcimboldo.   The National Gallery in Washington had a wonderful Arcimboldo show a few years ago that I probably visited a half dozen times.

K arch

Then it was on to a slow walk through the dozens of rooms that make up the Picture Gallery.  It was overwhelming.  Kunsthistorisches Museum has a magnificent collection.

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Albrecht Dürer’s “Adoration of the Trinity”


Leonhard Beck’s “Saint George”

Lunch at Ilona Stüberl

Ilona Stüberl is a wonderful Hungarian restaurant a few blocks from the Stephansplatz, which is the central square in Vienna.   Stephansplatz and the area around it form a lively pedestrianized retail area full of well-known international upscale brands.  The area gets its name from the Stephansdom, Vienna’s cathedral, which sits in its center.


Ilona Stüberl

Ilona Stüberl is a small restaurant—there are only 25 seats inside—founded by a Hungarian couple in the late 1950s.  It’s another friendly place that mixes a cosmopolitan clientele with what seemed like a lot of local patrons.  The Ilona Stüberl menu is available in eight languages, but several patrons were clearly regulars, greeting the server by name.

Ilona bisquits


The contents of the bread basket are usually a pretty good indicator of the quality of the meal to follow.   I wish I’d asked if these biscuits haves a name, because they were marvelous.   From my web search, I think they’re called Pogácsa, which is a traditional Hungarian cheese biscuit.

Ilona Soup

“Jókai” bean soup

“Jókai” is a traditional Hungarian bean soup, made w/smoked pork hock, smoked sausages, and pinto beans.  And, since it’s Hungarian, sour cream and paprika.

Ilona chicken

Paprika Chicken with gnocchi

Nicely done Paprika Chicken.  Another over-sized serving.