Andres Serrano | Art and Design | Catholic Church | France | Jesus Christ | News | Vandalism

Andres Serrano's 'Piss Christ' Destroyed by Catholic Vandals

Andres Serrano's controversial work "Piss Christ" has been destroyed by Catholic vandals in France.

Pisschrist The Guardian reports:

The work has previously been shown without incident in France, but for the past two weeks Catholic groups have campaigned against it, culminating in hundreds of people marching through Avignon on Saturday in protest.

Just after 11am on Sunday, four people in sunglasses entered the gallery where the exhibition was being held. One took a hammer from his sock and threatened security staff. A guard restrained one man but the remaining members of the group managed to smash an acrylic screen and slash the photograph with what police believe was a screwdriver or ice pick. They then destroyed another photograph, of nuns' hands in prayer.

Piss Christ is part of a series by Serrano showing religious objects submerged in fluid such as blood and milk. It was being shown in an exhibition to mark 10 years of the art dealer Yvon Lambert's personal collection in his 18th-century mansion.

Last week the gallery complained of "extremist harassment" by Christians who wanted the image banned. The archbishop of Vaucluse, Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, called the work "odious" and said he wanted "this trash" taken off the gallery walls. Saturday's street protest against the work gained the support of the far-right National Front, which has recently done well in local elections.

French NewsOnline adds:

Some 24 hours after the act of vandalism was first reported, Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand told France Info: “I’m shocked that someone can go into a museum, assault the guards and destroy an art work. This is unacceptable. If one is offended by a piece of art one should make a formal complaint at law: this is a fundamental principle of the French Republic. Any act of violence, destruction, and intolerance is unacceptable”. The minister acknowledged that the “Piss Christ” work may well offend many people but he unequivocally condemned the violence at the museum.

(image via animal)

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Comments

  1. This is intriguing. I wonder about the spiritual net gain/loss here. After all, they did deface an image of their savior.

    Posted by: Matt | Apr 18, 2011 9:29:56 AM


  2. It's a photograph they destroyed. Make another print.

    Posted by: Brent | Apr 18, 2011 9:37:07 AM


  3. Barbarians.

    Posted by: Tone | Apr 18, 2011 10:01:50 AM


  4. Brent,

    It is not as simple as it's a photograph. Photographs like Piss Christ are editioned and after they sell all the copies, usually the negative is destroyed or retired, to keep the value of the work to rise. So it might not be as simple as to reprint another image.

    Posted by: Dan | Apr 18, 2011 10:05:11 AM


  5. Well, I suppose if it was a piece of 'Art' defaming and defacing Muhammad the 'Artist' would probably be found dead and decapitated or be hiding out fearing for his life.

    We have miscommunication going on: It's common for self described 'progressives' to harass, vandalize, even commit faux 'Hate' crimes in order to attract attention to their cause. But they usually get mega-BS and full of smug self-righteousness when anyone harasses, vandalizes, defames, defaces their sacred cows or respond in kind to their provocations. It's called hypocrisy. 'Progressives' practice it, conservatives practice it, 'Neocons' practice it, liberals practice it, females practice it, males practice it, gays, bisexuals,heterosexuals practice it, transwhatever practice it, young and old practice it.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 18, 2011 10:24:10 AM


  6. What the hell is going on in France with this increasing intolerance and conservatism?

    Posted by: joe c | Apr 18, 2011 10:34:01 AM


  7. @Ratbastard

    If it's so "common" for progressives to vandalize and commit "faux hate crimes" that are in any way similar to threatening a guard at a museum with a hammer while destroying a privately-owned work of art, then it shouldn't be too hard for you to back up that claim with a handful of specific recent examples, just off the top of your head. Follow through, please.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Apr 18, 2011 10:45:40 AM


  8. I've never understood why the religious find bodily fluids so offensive? We all have them. It's human. Look at the photo; it's quite beautiful, actually. Protesting Piss Christ, still! How sad and silly. How hollow the religious beliefs of those who have nothing better to object to.

    Violent objections to art--whoever's doing the objecting, though it's almost always right-wing/religious extremists--says more about the narrow-minded idiocy of the objectors than the work of art itself. It's to Serrano's credit that this still inflates passion, even if the passion is entirely misplaced.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 18, 2011 10:54:36 AM


  9. No doubt Catholics have grown weary over the centuries of breaking the penises off statues, and felt a need to become relevant to the 20th [sic] century.

    Religion is inherently anti-democratic. Those who believe absurdities are never more ready to commit atrocities as when "there is no higher law than God's law."

    Posted by: Bryan | Apr 18, 2011 10:58:12 AM


  10. My question is why it is universally accepted that it's wrong to even depict an image of Muhammad (because of the violent reactions from Muslims) but a single incident in response to one of many defacements of Jesus over the years is seen as "horrible." I don't condone violence of any kind, but can still see that there seems to be a double standard here...

    Posted by: J | Apr 18, 2011 12:22:31 PM


  11. art can grow, change. i think it's better now. smashed face and all. display it as is, everywhere.

    Posted by: ruckus | Apr 18, 2011 12:56:56 PM


  12. Agree with J. There is a double standard with muslims because there is the real threat that someone will slit your throat.

    Posted by: Paul | Apr 18, 2011 1:43:46 PM


  13. @Ruckus,

    Agree, You can't destroy Art. It only gains meaning in vandalism.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Apr 18, 2011 1:55:03 PM


  14. Thus the ignorant continue to attack that which they do not understand.

    Serrano stated years ago that this plastic crucifix was displayed and photographed in this manner as an artistic criticism of the commercialization of faith.

    Posted by: evan | Apr 18, 2011 2:47:30 PM


  15. I saw this ages ago at the Saatchi in London. It's a beautiful photograph. Love Serrano and actually used some of his work for my 2nd year art school essay at university.

    I don't know if any progressives who have defaced anything Rat. Can you give examples of defacification? I know some who protest but don't know any who have succeeded in their protests!?

    The Mohammed cartoon was not a piece of art. I'd hate to have that happen to my work because someone didn't agree with it...

    Posted by: Rowan | Apr 18, 2011 3:01:10 PM


  16. I also think Rat that your knowledge of progressives is very narrow....

    You know more then anyone because although you hate the left, that you have to look at factual evidence.

    Lefties, more then any group NEVER agree. Their is a broad church that don't even like what the other thinks, so how you can lump them in one box is odd because the right has always been more unanimous in it's need for smaller government, more religion in schools and more capitalism.

    I am progressive. And because I am I want smaller government but I want it done not so some big corporation can have that power in place but that the community takes the power through entrepreneurship.

    Posted by: Rowan | Apr 18, 2011 3:06:42 PM


  17. Provocative means that something is meant to provoke. The vandalism of a/the provocative piece concluded the work of art and gave it a final meaning.

    The artist expected a reaction, taunted a reaction, and therefore was successful.

    So what's the beef, exactly?

    Posted by: Rin | Apr 18, 2011 3:53:21 PM


  18. Weird how he targeted the face of the image of Jesus.

    Also, the image could have been part of the glass, like Thomas Struth's work, which would of course mean that this work of art was in fact destroyed. I'd buy it though, with Duchamp in mind....

    Posted by: greg | Apr 18, 2011 8:27:08 PM


  19. I don't get it. You desecrate something someone else holds sacred, and then act shocked when that desecration is, itself, attacked? Sorry, being outraged over the vandalism of Serrano's work is simply hypocritical.

    Posted by: Brian | Apr 18, 2011 8:28:27 PM


  20. Brian @ 8:28, you're just wrong. Producing a photo is not desecration. Immersing your own object into urine is not desecration.

    Most importantly, if I'm not a Christian, your Christian laws and morals do NOT apply to me.

    Slashing someone else's property while on display in an art gallery is not just a property crime, but also an attack on free expression, and in this case a religious hate crime.

    Posted by: Randy | Apr 18, 2011 9:58:57 PM


  21. We gays are living in an effete self-referential world if this od any real importance to us. The art industry thrives off of publicity -- Serrano decided to make money by pushing the then envelope of shock value. But there was no political, or artistic point to photographing Christ through urine. Someone can tie themselves into a pretzel making one up, but there just isn't. There is nothing real to defend in this photograph.

    Posted by: Kurt | Apr 18, 2011 10:14:26 PM


  22. It was disrespectful of christianity and vulgar to the nth degree. That was its whole purpose. There's no surprise that some gay people would support the trash, after the church has dumped on us for centuries. But it was trash nonetheless, with no coherent theme and no meaning other than to show contempt for religion. I can imagine how the atheist crowd would react if someone put a photo of Harvey in a pile of dung.

    Posted by: Wilberforce | Apr 18, 2011 11:17:14 PM


  23. "You desecrate something someone else holds sacred, and then act shocked when that desecration is, itself, attacked?"

    "It was disrespectful of christianity and vulgar to the nth degree."

    That's the thing about art, everyone can have an opinion about it. From my POV, it was neither disrespectful or a desecration, and I found it's so-called vulgarity beautiful. Obviously, others feel similarly since the work has passed the test of time.

    But you don't have to get it, and neither do the protesters. Destroying works of art, however, just implies that you're too ignorant to respond in any meaningful way. Serrano isn't hurt by this. The petty vandals only reveal their own misguided rage. You don't even have to defend the work to see how silly their little tantrum was.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 19, 2011 12:28:21 AM


  24. Right. It isn't disrespectful. And I'm the ignorant one.
    What I do get, is that some queers have been acting out their knee jerk hatred for christianity for thirty years, so much so that they can't see the diff between fundamentalism and their freinds in the liberal church. It's too boring.
    Since you won't answer the question, I will. If someone put a picture of Harvey in a pile, I would see it as obvious bigotry and hatred, which is what piss christ is.
    But of course, bigots don't respond to rational argument.

    Posted by: Wilberforce | Apr 19, 2011 1:06:49 AM


  25. "But you don't have to get it, and neither do the protesters."

    You don't have to get it either.

    The act was done openly. It was non-violent.

    And it was about damn time.

    I thoroughly approve, and you're not going to change that.

    Posted by: Brian | Apr 19, 2011 3:03:37 AM


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