The Erotic Museum – Pornhub Launches tours of ‘Classic Nudes’

The Erotic Museum – Pornhub Launches tours of ‘Classic Nudes’

Pornhub has launched an interactive platform that guides viewers through a tour of the erotic art that is exhibited in the world’s most renowned museums, such as the MET, the Museo del Prado, the Louvre, and the Uffizi Gallery. However, museums aren’t happy.  

Did you ever consider how sexy the women bathing in Cézanne’s Bathers were walking around the MET? Or how Titian’s Venus of Urbino in the Uffizi Gallery just fulfilled all your erotic fantasies? Well, Pornhub has. Museums have gone porno, and there have been mixed reviews. 

On Tuesday 13th July, Pornhub launched a new interactive website called Classic Nudes, partnered with AI experts to demonstrate the connection between the porn industry and visual arts.  

‘‘Some people think of museums as boring, stuffy or dull. But what if we told you they housed a collection of priceless porn? Welcome to Classic Nudes, Pornhub’s interactive guide to some of the sexiest scenes in history at the world’s most famous museums. Join us as we tour the most respected institutions in western art, guiding you past all the prude paintings and going directly to the good stuff: representations of the naked body in all its artistic glory. Because porn may not be considered art, but some art can definitely be considered porn.’’ 

Pornhub website’s statement

Before releasing the site, Pornhub announced its collaboration with Ilona Staller, – also known as Cicciolina – former politician, adult film actress and the former wife of Jeff Koons, through an advertisement placing the star in Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus

In a press release, Pornhub stated that they aimed to stimulate ‘‘the public visit, explore and fall back in love (or lust) with these cultural institutions.’’ 

The platform contains 31 artworks, some of them with audio guides narrated by American porn star and adult-film director Asa Akira, and six of them with a video guide re-enacted by porn actors and actresses.  

It also comes with a map of the museums that labels the different nude artworks, accompanied by a tour path around the museum. 

Among the notable works are Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe by Manet, Botticelli’s Birth of VenusNaked Maja by Goya, Rubens’ The Three Graces and Cézanne’s The Bathers

The selection shows how the category of classical art predominantly features white bodies painted by white artists, and therefore, to balance the Eurocentric collections that these museums offer, Classic Nudes has introduced a category called Another Perspective, which displays several international collections that showcase non-white artworks from India, Japan, China, and the Americas.  

Each guide can be accessed at home or the museum, blending history with humour in texts filled with sexual innuendo and WAP references.  

Undoubtedly, this exhibit is not recommended for viewing in public, as these X-rated films are brought to life by the Pornhub amateur couple MySweetApple, in an explicit manner. 

Pornhub also launched an app alongside the website, that promises its users to look ‘‘past all the prude paintings’’ and go ‘directly to the good stuff’’. 

According to Asa Akira, “There’s a treasure trove of erotic art around the world—depicting nudes, orgies, and more—that’s not available on Pornhub.”  

“These pre-Internet art pieces are currently sitting in museums, which we are now finally able to start visiting again as Covid restrictions are starting to lift.” 

Akira added that is “Time to ditch those boring self-tour recordings and enjoy every single brushstroke of these erotic masterpieces with me.” 

How have museums reacted? 

The platform launched virtual tours of six major world museums – The Louvre, The MET, The National Gallery, Museo del Prado, The Uffizi Gallery and Musée D’Orsay. However, soon after the site was launched, museums began to threaten legal action against the site. 

The Louvre has initiated legal proceedings against Pornhub for their unauthorised use of artefacts from their collection, demanding the removal of the reproductions that are displayed in the online gallery. 

Along with The Louvre, a spokesperson for the Uffizi Gallery told the Daily Beast that ‘‘No one has granted authorizations for the operation or use of the art.’’ 

‘‘In Italy, the cultural heritage code provides that in order to use images of a museum, compressed works for commercial purposes, it is necessary to have the permission, which regulates the methods and sets the relative fee to be paid.’’ The Uffizi Gallery 

Little less than a month since the site’s launch, half of the museums featured have spoken out against the exhibition, with The National Gallery, The MET and the Musée D’Orsay yet to comment. 

However, while the website is still running, showing links, images, and descriptions to museum collections, the video and audio guides are currently unavailable. 

What about the public? 

Surprisingly there hasn’t been a Twitter battle regarding this issue, yet. 

However, Input Magazine’s Matt Wille has expressed his thoughts on the site after taking the tour around the MET. 

According to Wille, he had never been to the MET before without getting lost. But with Pornhub’s help, he was ended ‘‘up adrift in the museum’s impressive collection as a consequence of hunting for nudes.’’ 

As a self-described ‘bored, sex-positive journalist’ he decided to explore the tour himself. 

After, once again, getting lost, Wille felt that Pornhub’s map left a lot to be desired. The map ‘‘includes no reference points other than a vague overview of the general area in which the painting or sculpture can be found. Room numbers or even just gallery descriptions would’ve made the hunt much less taxing’’. 

While Wille was left expecting more from Pornhub’s curation, as only one male nude was included in the tour, while there were ‘‘plenty of visible penises at the MET…attached to male statues’’, he ‘‘genuinely enjoyed’’ the tour. 

‘‘The Met, which I’ve always viewed as a pretty conservative space, came alive with fresh, horned-up feeling as I ran around looking for all the best nudes it could offer. The descriptions Pornhub’s written for each piece are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. To wit: “Water has often been used by artists throughout history to represent sperm. And that’s why many of us refer to the ocean as God’s bukkake. Or is that just me?’’ 

He was also greatly surprised by Cicciolina’s audio guide narration, which took ‘‘the tour to the next level’’. 

While Wille felt that he experienced the MET in a whole new way, there were a few instances where the tour became slightly uncomfortable. 

‘‘Okay, actually there was one moment when the tour left me genuinely uncomfortable: The tour page for Degas’ Male Nude includes a seemingly harmless video that turns into an extremely graphic blowjob scene. Luckily, no nosy tourists were looking over my shoulder’’. 

Although Wille seemed to have a pleasant experience with the Classic Nudes tour of the MET he finished his article with a statement that most have considered. 

‘‘Given the year Pornhub has had in the media — a December 2020 New York Times column about exploitative and illegal porn on the site prompted the company to nuke millions of videos — it’s a little difficult for me to see beyond Classic Nudes as a reputation-rebuilding PR stunt.’’ 

While Pornhub’s initiative might be an entertaining way to see a museum, it’s unlikely this appeals to the majority of sexual desires. Writing this article just makes me think what does really Pornhub win doing an erotic tour of museums? Does fetishizing and sexualising some of the western world’s most decorated art take away its finery, sophistication and true message? In a raving digital world with uncountable hours of accessible porn, why should the art world pay for our society’s uncomfortable obsession with sex? It is obviously not for the art – so it might be a way to expand their viewership?

Illustrated by Tara Mulliss

About The Author

Eugenia Pacheco Aisa

Eugenia Pacheco Aisa is an MA History of Art student at University College London (UCL), working on her dissertation about photographer Francesca Woodman. She graduated from UCL in 2020, from a degree in Classical Archaeology and Classical Civilisations. A recent addition to the Mouthing Off Magazine, Eugenia currently manages the visual arts team.

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