Sunday, 29 October 2006


Blasphemy, by S Brent Plate, is the first-ever full-length study of blasphemous art. It begins with a lengthy, though generalised, account of the Mohammed cartoons controversy, and is profusely illustrated (including small reproductions of a few of the Mohammed caricatures, though none of the subsequent cartoons inspired by them).

Most of the illustrations, though, are not really blasphemous. Several, such as works by Jake and Dinos Chapman, Marcus Harvey, and others, have no relation to blasphemy at all. A chapter on flag desecration seems extraneous (and the subject, along with modern American examples of artistic blasphemy, was discussed in Steven C Dubin's excellent book Arresting Images).

Potentially blasphemous art representing Jesus as sexually active (such as The Last Temptation Of Christ) or tumescent (such as Terence Koh) are glossed over or excluded. The author explains that he has concentrated solely on visual art, though I'm still surprised that he didn't find room to even briefly mention the novel The Satanic Verses or the poem The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name, which are perhaps the most famous examples of blasphemous art in the UK.

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