Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nightmare at the Brooklyn Museum of Art

Back in 1999 there was a selection of artworks from the Saatchi collection on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. One of the pieces included was by African artist Chris Offili. He is known for incorporating elephant dung into some of his paintings, and the piece on display on this occasion was his rendering of the "The Holy Virgin Mary," done in African folk-art style. Offili attached a globe of elephant dung to the canvas to represent one of the Madonna's bosoms. Well...a mighty hew and cry was raised in the city of Gotham over that! The Mayor himself, Rudy Giuliani, excoriated the museum for exhibiting such a work of sacrilege! That the elephant dung was reportedly used as a symbol of fertility did not mitigate the (rather theatrical) outrage of (some of) New York's Catholics. I drew this as a coded commentary on the hullaballoo...coded because it was drawn for the "Halloween Issue" of the employees' newsletter at my place of work, (situated not far from City Hall), and I wasn't sure whether a more direct response would be received well or badly, given that Giuliani was very popular with very many people who were not me. The child in the forefront with the vampire costume was my representation of a certain pugnacious and occasionally (for tv) cross-dressing mayor.

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