The Palais de Tokyo in Paris has reopened to the public with a vast triennial exhibition of contemporary art and the ambition to be an “anti-museum.” More than an art space, the new Palais is a vortex dug deep into the haut heart of right bank Paris. Without warning, it funnels the visitor deep underground all the way to Avenue President Wilson on the river Seine. Inside it is unplastered and unpainted, half concrete cathedral, half construction site.
The plays may have been more scandalous than the author’s sex life, but visitors still plant sexy kisses on his grave.
Oscar Wilde, the 20th century’s most famous sexual dissident, has been dead 100 years to the day. From his deathbed in a seedy Paris hotel, he has seeped into our collective consciousness and become a contemporary celebrity almost as popular as Lady Di. More than just a gay martyr, Wilde was a subversive Superman willing to hazard everything. His lectures were camp performance art and his plays celebrated decadence, gender swapping and the “cult of the clitoris.” He seems to have been the First Modern Man to emerge from the moralizing slime of the Victorian age.