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Oxford Don Counts 93 Penises in Bayeux Tapestry; Says Makers Must Have Been Male

Portrait of Timothée Chalamet as art history muse, and anyone for some Handmaid’s Tale-themed wine? All the latest in art world madness

Detail from the Bayeux Tapestry. Courtesy: Bayeux Museum

Detail from the Bayeux Tapestry. Courtesy: Bayeux Museum

Detail from the Bayeux Tapestry. Courtesy: Bayeux Museum

The Bayeux Tapestry is one of the most important medieval artifacts in the world. Stretching across 70 metres, it sets out the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror – and the decisive Battle of Hastings in 1066 – in vivid form. Enter George Garnett, professor of medieval history at the University of Oxford, who says we have missed one of the tapestry’s most telling details – the number of penises. There are 93 of them, Garnett says, after counting them himself (he is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the first to have done so). 88 belong to horses, and 5 are human. Now the professor thinks that the evidence points to the embroiderers being male. ‘This is just the sort of thing which will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time in a boys’s school, but seems unlikely to have been the product of a female mind,’ he wrote in a BBC article. Now we know what fragile masculinity looked like in the 11th century.

A viral Instagram account is reimagining what results Caravaggio, Sargent or Munch might have produced if their muse was … Timothée Chalamet. The account began with making the indie film actor the star of The Scream. Since then he’s also appeared in Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Caravaggio’s Boy With a Basket of Fruit and Gustave Courbet’s The Desperate Man:

 

 

We’ve found it – the worst product tie-in ever: a collection of The Handmaid’s Tale-themed wine. Online wine retailers Lot18 collaborated with MGM to release a series of wines named after Offred, Ofglen and Serena Joy. Tasting notes for the Offred-themed pinot noir say it’s ‘so beguiling it seems almost forbidden’. It gets worse: ‘It’s useless to resist the wine’s smooth and appealingly earthy profile, so you may as well give in.’ Unbelievably, this isn’t even the first time that Margaret Attwood’s tale of violent oppression and sex slavery under a fascist-religious patriarchy has been turned into a branding opportunity – nightwear outfitters Lunya released a lingerie set last year called Offred.

Locals are going nuts after artists Marius Jansen van Vuuren and Alex Rinsler installed a 12-metre-high straw squirrel sculpture in the Kazakhstan city of Almaty. It cost USD$67,000 – some have said that the money, which partly drew on public funds, could have gone to a better cause, labelling it a ‘disgrace’ and a ‘waste of our taxes.’ Artist Rinsler disagreed with the backlash, and called for more solidarity with the fellow rodents: ‘Squirrels are out urban neighbours,’ he said, ‘Like us, they adapted to life in the city and, like us, they need the resources to survive and thrive.’ Perhaps a giant shirtless Jeff Goldblum statue would have gone down better.

In the Name of Art is our semi-regular compendium of (almost) unbelievable art world stories. Send your worst to digitaleditors@frieze.com

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