"Our intention is to disturb the visitor," Ms. Lagrave notes in an exhibition pamphlet. "While people might expect to find images of physical contact and beauty, we show how difficult it is to love today."
Ms. Farge suggests a reason: "In the 18th century, a man and woman lived together for a maximum of three or four years because of wars, epidemics, death during childbirth and so on. Life was a succession of funerals and remarriages. In fact, until today, couples have never had to live together for a long time."
The Changing Story, the Unquiet Glory of Love
The exhibit in northeast Paris attempts to respond playfully to the serious questions tweenagers ask about sexuality and romantic feeling. Inspired by a guide to sex by the popular cartoonist Zep and writer Helene Bruller, the exhibit also encourages children and their parents or teachers to shed all modesty and embarrassment about touchy topics and start talking.
"The kids were talking about this stuff at school and Clemence didn't understand," said her mother, Danielle Dubreuil, who prefers bringing her curious daughter to the exhibit rather than discussing such topics with her alone.
"We talk about some things," the 42-year-old mother said, hesitantly, "but penetration -- that I had trouble with."
Paris exhibit a children's guide to sex