Above Graphic and Most Photos By Kat Bentley, Except Where Noted
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has possibly the broadest collection of art in the world; spanning more than 5000 years of objects from across the globe — from the first cities of the ancient world to works being created today. In my 30 years of living in NYC, I’ve visited the museum maybe a hundred times, and I’ve barely even begun to explore its hundreds of galleries. While a dozen new exhibits open at The Met each season, offering no shortage of incentive to plan a visit, what can be really exciting is to discover the hidden works in the museum’s collection that you might otherwise walk right by and never notice. That’s one reason why I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend a press preview of a new Met tour called Unhung Heroes of the Metropolitan, offered by the popular Shady Ladies Tours. As you might infer by the cheeky name, Unhung Heroes explores male members in paintings and sculptures across the museum, and it is all kinds of crazy fun!
You May Hear the Story Behind This Penis-Shaped Oil Vessel (Photo By Gail)
Expertly guided by Professor Andrew Lear, the founder of Shady Ladies Tours, the Unhung Heroes tour explores the naughty side of classic artworks, and considers burning questions such as:
Are the members in these artworks true to life size?
Were men really smaller back then?
Why are many of the statues’ missing body parts?
Is there hidden phallic symbolism in your favorite painting?
For museum-goers who’ve lost sleep over these and other questions, this tour will school you beyond your wildest dreams. As a leading scholar on the history of sexuality, Andrew Lear is one of the foremost authorities on the erotic in Greek and Roman art. Beyond his historical knowledge, Professor Lear is completely hilarious and has tons of amazing stories that will keep you fully engaged, laughing and entertained over the 90-minute walking tour. Here are a few of the artworks you might see on the Unhung Heroes Tour!
Photo by Gail
One of the first things Professor Lear will introduce you to are the aesthetic ideals of Greek culture and how they have affected the history of art without clothes. In these ancient times, penis size as depicted in artworks was a reflection of a man’s social status. If a man was of high status, he will generally be depicted with a smaller penis, as a sign of refinement and class.
Photo by Gail
For example, this wine vessel depicts a scene of Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of wine, and one of his man-servants. You can see that Dionysus‘ junk is completely covered up, while his servant, though naked, has a very modest penis.
By contrast, this adjacent, carved figure of a reclining, overweight and quite unattractive man has his stuff all out on display, which was considered vulgar and low class.
Photo By Gail
Dr. Lear really knows where to find all the fun examples of large members being associated with beasts as opposed to fine gentlemen. The above pottery shard shows a drunken Satyr (half goat and half man) with an obvious boner who is so wasted he doesn’t even notice that a donkey is walking over him. The word printed above him is his name, which translates to “Not Beautiful.” I love that story.
Here are three Satyrs masturbating. There is no way you would ever find this artwork if it was not pointed out to you. You’re welcome.
Other sexy facts about the ancient Greeks that you might enjoy knowing:
Greek men worked out constantly and they did so completely in the nude. The word Gymnasium literally means “Naked Place.”
While homoerotic practices are sometimes euphemistically referred to as ‘Greek Love,’ Professor Lear pointed out that the Greeks did not approve of anal sex, while the Romans did!
More Penises After the Jump!