"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." -- Bertrand Russell

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Fighting over God's Image" at New York Times

Columnists Edward Blum and Paul Harvey have posted a fascinating (but short) look at the history of American artistic blasphemy in the New York Times. The article covers large territory in a short space, but should serve as an excellent place to start discussion on this topic. In the wake of the Islamic world's uproar over defamatory depictions of Muhammed, it serves us well to note that our own culture is not exempt from similar uproars:
More recently, there have been uproars over the Nigerian-British painter Chris Ofili’s “Holy Virgin Mary” and the New York artist and photographer Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ.” Mr. Serrano’s image of Jesus on the crucifix, submerged in the artist’s own urine, roused a crusade against the National Endowment for the Arts in the late 1980s. Mr. Ofili’s painting of a dark-skinned Madonna with photographs of vaginas surrounding her enraged Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. The mayor, who mistakenly claimed that elephant dung was smeared on the image when it in fact was used at the base to hold the painting up, tried to ban it from being displayed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, in 1999. (One upset Christian smeared white paint over it.)

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