a tale of a few cities

Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ Destroyed

Posted in Art, Photography, protests, Reportage by petercombe on April 18, 2011

When New York artist Andres Serrano plunged a plastic crucifix into a glass of his own urine and photographed it in 1987 under the title Piss Christ, he said he was making a statement on the misuse of religion.

Controversy has followed the work ever since, but reached an unprecedented peak on Palm Sunday when it was attacked with hammers and destroyed after an “anti-blasphemy” campaign by French Catholic fundamentalists in the southern city of Avignon. For four months, it has hung in the exhibition “Je crois aux miracles”, (I Believe in Miracles), to mark 10 years of art-dealer Yvon Lambert’s personal collection in his 18th-century mansion gallery in Avignon. The show is due to end next month, but two weeks ago a concerted protest campaign began.

Also on view, Twombly’s “Phaedrus, A white painting valued at $2.8 million was notoriously smeared with red lipstick when a woman kissed it in 2007. For this exhibit, the work was placed behind a security barrier. In light of recent religious protests in the south of France, I am surprised the museum didn’t take the same precaution with Serrano’s work. 

The Collection Lambert gallery director, Eric Mézil, said the museum would reopen with the destroyed works on show “so people can see what barbarians can do”. He said there had been a kind of “inquisition” against the art work.

right: Piss Christ by Andres Serrano after it was attacked by Christian protesters in Avignon.

Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian >

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