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Racy art show ads draw protest

VIENNA — Naked men of all sizes and shapes are appearing on Vienna kiosks as a prestigious museum kicks off an exhibit of male nudity.

But outside the exhibition, organizers are being forced into cover-up mode after a storm of complaints that the ad posters are offensive.

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In a show titled ‘‘Nude Men from 1800 to Today,’’ the Leopold Museum opened its doors Friday to examine how artists have dealt with the theme of male nudity over the centuries.

‘‘Mr. Big’’ — a more than 12-foot high full-frontal photo mounted on plywood and depicting a naked young man in an indolent sprawl — is set up near the show’s entrance.

Inside, about 300 art works are on display — including the controversial photograph that is raising the ire of Viennese. Created by French artists Pierre & Gilles, ‘‘Vive La France’’ shows three young, athletic men of different races wearing nothing but blue, white, and red socks and soccer shoes.

No visitors were complaining Friday as they filed past that photo and even more graphic examples of male nudity, including some depicted in sex acts.

Not so in the city. Posters of the three men were given impromptu fig-leafs — lines of red tape covering their private parts.

Museum officials say they received a flood of complaints by last week, mostly from outlying districts heavily populated by new immigrants from Muslim countries.

Museum director Tobias Natter says the flap serves to point out ‘‘that nobody gets offended by naked women, but with naked men: yes.’’

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