Museum Bums

If you followed me on Twitter, back in the days when it was not just a propaganda tool for fascists, you may well have seen me retweet posts by the Museum Bums account. Well they were funny. Also I had a personal connection. I’ve known Mark Small for many years via OutStories Bristol. He and Jack Shoulder were clearly having a lot of fun with their account. And because fun sells, that account is now a book too.

The basic concept of Museum Bums is that our museums and art galleries are chock full of representations of naked buttocks. Much of that is due to prudishness about the depiction of genitals, especially those of the male variety. The other side of the nether regions was so much less likely to cause outrage. And clearly wasn’t anything to do with sex. Unless…

Unless you happen to be a couple of gay boys with a wicked sense of humour, in which case the sight of all those tight male derrieres can be quite overwhelming.

To give them their due, the book isn’t entirely about enticing male buttocks. The cover has a nice bit of gender balance, featuring an engraving of Venus and Mars by Angelo Bertini. The first chapter is devoted to bottoms of the female persuasion. And there is one chapter entirely about things that look like bums but are not bums. Peachy!

The rest of the book, on the other hand…

I should also note that not all of the images that are included were intended to titillate our homophilic friends. There’s an entire chapter on religion, much of which is devoted to one of my favourite paintings: ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Hieronymus Bosch. That is absolutely stuffed with images of naked bums. Us girls manage to sneak into that chapter too, partly because we inhabit the afterlife as much as men, and partly thanks to the wonderful Luis Ricardo Falero’s depictions of witches’ sabbats and the like.

Part of ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Hieronymous Bosch

You’ll note that I’m wittering on about artists. Small and Shoulder know a lot more about art than I do, and their knowledge is one of the joys of the book. They couldn’t have done it otherwise.

But the book is also full of puns. It is cheeky about both cheeks. Because how can you not have a book all about naked bums and not descend into silliness at every available opportunity?

‘Allegory of Purity and Lust’ by Luis Ricardo Falero

The great thing about this book is that it is both a very erudite coffee table book full of beautiful images of amazing works of art, and a very irreverent book about the joy of a shapely pair of naked buttocks. It is just the sort of thing with which to torment your racist uncle.

Or just to have a quiet giggle over yourself.

book cover
Title: Museum Bums
By: Mark Small & Jack Shoulder
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Purchase links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US UK
See here for information about buying books though Salon Futura

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