Posts Tagged ‘the sexual instinct and art’

STORY – Museums and the sexual instinct

Saturday, October 16th, 2010



It never failed to happen—it always happened—he always went into a museum ready to be stimulated, amused, moved, awed by art—but inevitably, before he’d gotten twenty-six paintings or three rooms into an art museum, he’d start feeling sparky.

There was no fuller, better, harsher word for it. Slowly, subtly, before a picture any picture—didn’t matter which—his hands would begin sliding up and down the back of the woman he was with.

Before another dozen paintings were out of the way, he’d want to head her to some impossible secluded corner in the museum to grope.

It had happened before. And before. And before that. For years, every time. Once he’d dished up an explanation for it: “I think it’s because in museums there’s this sense of extinction. It’s all done, dead, hanging on the walls, inert, trying to be masterpieces. And I react to this by getting a certain base, jumpy, grabby horiness. I’m fighting the overwhelming sense of still life and eerie permanence by being invaded, overwhelmed by the possibilities of a woman’s flesh, alive, new, there.”

“Don’t,” she whispered, looking around, squirming out of his clutches.

He tried to take his mind off the matter by going to stand and look at another painting. He appreciated. The colors, the composition, the brush strokes … and then he’d glance sideways, and there’d be another woman. He’d stand back, as though appreciating the painting by giving it a fuller view, from a fine connoisseur’s distance. He’d study the woman instead. He’d study any woman. Face, eyes, hands, thighs, ankles and everything in between.

The museum was filled with wandering women. The pictures, the chef-d’oeuvres, the exhibit that had cost so much to get into—it all became incidental background compared to the alive and moving women.

Outside, escaped, the drums of sex would dim.

“What gets into you?” she asked.

He took in a chestful of outside air. “I don’t know,” he said, quieting. He breathed.

They began descending the cement steps.

Two women passed, ascending. His eyes followed. Followed.

Within, deep within, a muffled drum beat on.