A French gallery displays the now-vandalized work -- and shows what real blasphemy looks like
The French really know how to get worked up about art. They’ll riot over a ballet; they’ll get whipped into a frenzy over impressionism. And this past Palm Sunday a group of Catholic protesters stormed a gallery in Avignon and defaced Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ.”
The notorious photograph of a crucifix immersed in the artist’s urine has been inciting outrage ever since Serrano unveiled it back in 1987. Thanks to Serrano’s modest NEA grant, Jesse Helms was able to use the work as an excuse to froth over public funding for the arts, and it’s reliably been trotted out as a shining example of all that’s sacrilegious and wicked in art ever since.
The work has been sparking protest ever since it arrived in Avignon earlier this month. Spokesmen for the Collection Lambert said that on Sunday, protesters hacked at it “beyond repair … with the help of a hammer and an object like a screwdriver or pickaxe.” They also ruined another Serrano — a tame image of a nun’s hands resting in her lap. The museum says that its staff has also received death threats. Way to ironically celebrate Jesus, there, freaks.
The protest has echoes of the controversy — and subsequent removal of David Wojnarowicz’s video “A Fire in My Belly” from Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery — last December because it featured an image of a crucifix covered in ants.
It should go without saying, but here it is: An image of Christ isn’t Christ. An artistic comment on religion or idolatry is not an abuse of faith. Serrano, who described himself this week as “profoundly Christian,” once said that the work was a critique of the “billion-dollar Christ-for-profit industry.” And perhaps that’s why the image is so incendiary: It reminds its detractors of the worst aspects of organized religion and its followers, rather than the tenets of the individual who founded it. Nobody’s really peeing on Jesus, literalists.
The Collection Lambert has reopened today (it’s closed on Mondays) with heightened security. The curators have stated their intention to go on “with the damaged works shown as they are.” I’m sure Jesus would be thrilled with how some of his fans are spending their time. It’s a terrible loss for contemporary art. But at least now, everybody who wants to know what real blasphemy and defilement look like can go to a museum in Avignon and see for themselves.
More Related Stories
- Diet soda rots your teeth "like meth and cocaine"
- Will U.S. amphibians become endangered species?
- I don't hate millennials anymore!
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- The secrets of cicada survival
- Nobody "needs" to rape
- Catholic Church in market for more exorcists
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Boy Scouts to members: Just don't be a gay adult
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- My text blew up in my face
- Boy Scouts end ban on openly gay boys
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- Man arrested for sending Craigslist sex party to neighbor's house
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11