18 September 2010

Art That Dares

Art That Dares
Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, & More, by Kittredge Cherry, discusses artists who have been censored for their depictions of Jesus as homosexual or (less controversially) as female. Arguably the most provocative artist profiled by Cherry is Alex Donis, whose My Cathedral installation in San Francisco depicted Jesus and the Hindu god Rama kissing passionately; the painting was destroyed by protesters in 1997.

Cherry's book focuses on painting and sculpture, though gay Christs have also appeared in other artistic media: a series of photographs by Fernando Bayone (Circus Christi), two films (Matthias von Fistenberg's Passio and Ed D Louie's He), a poem by James Kirkup (The Love That Dares To Speak Its Name), a lithograph by Enrique Chagoya (The Misadventures Of The Romantic Cannibals), a play by Terrence McNally (Corpus Christi), and a magazine illustration (Johnny Correa's Resurrection, in The Insurgent); also, in Jerry Springer: The Opera, Jesus admits: "Actually, I am a bit gay".

There have been exhibitions of intentionally blasphemous art in Dublin (Blasphemous) and Moscow (Caution: Religion! and Forbidden Art). S Brent Plate's book Blasphemy discusses the history of blasphemy in art, and Steven C Dubin's excellent book Arresting Images includes a chapter on the censorship of blasphemous art.

4 comment(s):

Kittredge Cherry said...

Thank you for this thoughtful summary of my book “Art That Dares.” The copy that you ordered was shipped out today, so it should reach you in about a week.

I see from this post that we have been looking at a lot of the same materials. Brent Plate’s book is even in the bibliography of “Art That Dares.” I think you’ll be fascinated by the gay Jesus art of Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin and the controversy it caused.

A new poetry book that will probably interest you is “Conjuring Jesus” by Brian Day. You can read my review of it at this link :

Jesus in Love Blog

I don’t think that Brian has been accused of blasphemy -- yet!

Yes, female Christ figures are less controversial now, which is not to say that they are accepted in the mainstream. There were huge controversies over “Christa” by Edwina Sandys and “Jesus of the People” by Janet McKenzie, with nasty accusations of blasphemy. You’ll see when you get the book.

Matthew Hunt said...

Thanks for the comment and links.

I will of course expand this entry into a full review after reading your book.

Brian Day's poetry book sounds fascinating.

Have you read Leo Steinberg's book The Sexuality Of Christ In Renaissance Art & In Modern Oblivion?

Re. female Christs, I guess their representation is becoming more commonplace though, as you say, that does not necessarily mean less controversial. I'm a Madonna fan, and of course she has used Christ imagery many times (stigmata in the Like A Prayer video; crucified on a mirrored cross during her Confessions tour; etc.).



Kittredge Cherry said...

I hope that the book is in your hands by now. Yes, I love Leo Steinberg’s book and included it in the bibliography of “Art That Dares.” I think you’ll like the work of Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, who did “Ecce Homo.”

Matthew Hunt said...

Yes, I received the book very quickly, thank you, and thanks also for your letter.

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