Raunchy Orgy Video Promotes Musée d’Orsay Show

How can a museum use porn to promote art?

Still from David Freymond and Florent Michel's trailer for
Still from David Freymond and Florent Michel's trailer for "Sade. Attacking the Sun."
Photo: YouTube screenshot.
Still from David Freymond and Florent Michel's trailer for "Sade. Attacking the Sun."<br />Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Still from David Freymond and Florent Michel’s trailer for “Sade. Attacking the Sun.”
Photo: YouTube screenshot.

The Musée d’Orsay is channeling the Marquis de Sade in a new trailer promoting its forthcoming exhibition on the literary libertine.

The Paris museum commissioned video artists David Freymond and Florent Michel to create a short clip touting the exhibition “Sade. Attacking the Sun,” which opens to the public on October 14. The 52-second video shows a massive orgy, with nude men and women writhing and embracing in an all-black, vacuum-like space. As the pace of the editing accelerates, the participants’ movements and expressions become more frantic. Eventually the camera pulls away to reveal that the nude bodies are massed in such a way to spell out the word “SADE.” It looks like what might happen if someone spiked the Kool-Aid with pheromones at a Spencer Tunick photo shoot.

Still from David Freymond and Florent Michel's trailer for "Sade. Attacking the Sun."Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Still from David Freymond and Florent Michel’s trailer for “Sade. Attacking the Sun.”
Photo: YouTube screenshot.

“Sade’s great revolution and great discovery was to have seen that everything, but especially thought, has its origin in our drives and passions,” exhibition curator Annie Le Brun explains in a more sober Musée d’Orsay video.

Reviewing Freymond and Michel’s video, Libération writer Emmanuèle Peyret finds the footage provocative, but nothing more. “In the end, it doesn’t come off as something pornographic or obscene, it’s rather beautiful, very aestheticized, like a painting by Renoir, Courbet, or a Rodin,” Peyret writes. “In brief, another artwork amid those already inhabiting the museum.”

Still from David Freymond and Florent Michel's trailer for "Sade. Attacking the Sun."Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Still from David Freymond and Florent Michel’s trailer for “Sade. Attacking the Sun.”
Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Indeed, the Musée d’Orsay is no stranger to gratuitous nudity. In 2013 it hosted “Masculine / Masculine. The Nude Man in Art from 1800 to the Present Day.” And earlier this year it was host to an unofficial and unauthorized performance art intervention in which an artist reinterpreted Gustave Courbet’s infamous 1866 nude painting L’Origine du monde in front of the original artwork.

Watch the trailer for “Sade. Attacking the Sun”:

Sade. Attacking the Sun” will be on view at the Musée d’Orsay from October 14, 2014–January 25, 2015.

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