Panty Poetry Celebrity Underwear Museum Opens in Brussels

Belgian artist Jan Bucquoy has always used a lot of underwear in his work. Now he's collected knickers from famous folks and opened a museum in Brussels that displays the "poetry" of skivvies.

For years, Jan Bucquoy has been known as the enfant terrible of the Belgian art scene. His latest project is the modest -- though in other ways, immodest -- "Musee du Slip" in Brussels where the underpants of well-known people are on display.

The most valuable item found there is a framed pair of faded blue boxer shorts with white stripes that allegedly once belonged to Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders.

"The certificate confirms the underwear's authenticity," Bucquoy says, pointing to a signature written with a shaky hand that he says belonged to Reynders.

Bucquoy claims that Reynders donated his knickers to the museum, which opened in early July. But, if so, did he anticipate that they would be exhibited right next to a G-string that allegedly once belonged to former Belgian porn star Brigitte Lahaie?

The museum boasts 10 other articles of celebrity underwear, most of which were donated by Belgium artists, singers and politicians. The rule is that their owners must have worn them for at least one day.

"I want to create poetry with everyday things by putting them in a different context," Bucquoy told Reuters. "I say underpants are art. Put them in a frame and create a new way of looking at the world."

Alongside the celebrity underpants are artworks that Bucquoy has created over the past 25 years featuring celebrities and underwear that is admittedly not their own. For example, you can find ones of former US President John F. Kennedy, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Adolf Hitler wearing underwear on their heads.

Bucquoy is particularly proud of a portrait of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. With a pair of red, white and blue swimming shorts on his head, Bucquoy finds that the so-called "bling-bling president" looks like Napoleon.

"My quest as an artist is to try to get rid of hierarchy," Bucquoy told Reuters, adding that he hoped he might be able to get underwear samples for his museum from French first lady Carla Bruni, Pope Benedict XVI and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Bucquoy became well-known in Belgium after the 1994 release of his film trilogy "The Sexual Life of the Belgians," which attacked what he perceived as the society's sexual inhibitions.

ecb -- with wire reports
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