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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  1. That's a shame, I was always very fond of Piss Christ. I hope he recovers back to his former glory.

    Posted by: EM | Apr 19, 2011 6:33:45 AM

  2. "What I do get, is that some queers have been acting out their knee jerk hatred for christianity for thirty years"

    Gee 'Wilberforce', try: christianity acting out knee jerk hatred of 'queers' (I see it's still ongoing) for TWO THOUSAND years and then let's talk about who has grounds for complaining.

    Posted by: EM | Apr 19, 2011 6:36:32 AM

  3. Non-violent? Threatening the guard with a hammer and breaking other people's property isn't violent?

    Posted by: Dev | Apr 19, 2011 6:37:54 AM

  4. If Christians truly believe that in Christ God is truly and fully incarnate, then no part of creation--no part, not even piss--is outside his nature. That, at a time when AIDS hysteria was full blown, was, it seems to me, the profound significance of Serrano's piece. Once again, the right-wing fundies reveal that they are not, in fact, Christian, but just Manichaeans in Christian trapping.

    Posted by: Marvin | Apr 19, 2011 6:56:47 AM

  5. I think the whole idea of the piece was to provoke some reaction, it achieved it's goal. As someone else posted it should be displayed as it is.

    Posted by: Rob West | Apr 19, 2011 8:45:43 AM

  6. "I would see it as obvious bigotry and hatred, which is what piss christ is."

    That's what it is to you. Not to me. I'm not saying you and Brian are ignorant, but you're assuming your response to Serrano's work is everyone's. It isn't.

    Disapproving of vandalizing works of art has nothing to do with approval/disapproval of Christianity (or some knee-jerk reaction to liberal churches, who indeed are our allies), though certainly "queer" objections to religious zealotry are necessary and legitimate. That doesn't mean queers have the right to go into churches and destroy religious art. If you destroy property, you should get arrested.

    Everyone is entitled to be offended by art, but expressing offense through violence only demonstrates ignorance and an inability to express one's self in any meaningful away. The rage isn't really about Piss Christ; it's about feeling lost and powerless.

    As for "Harvey in a pile of dung"--well, if someone creates that and it stands the test of time enough to land in a gallery 25 years from now, maybe I'll find it beautiful, maybe I won't. But I hope I'd have more self-respect than to express my opinion through threats and petty vandalism.

    Posted by: Ernie | Apr 19, 2011 11:14:22 AM

  7. As always, the best counter to speech one finds offensive and objectionable is more speech. The iconoclasts should fill a gallery with contemporary religious art that they find meaningful and beautiful. Some will ignore it, others might be converted.

    Posted by: Patrrick | Apr 19, 2011 1:04:19 PM

  8. what you do is not what matters. it's intent, and motivation. WHY you do what you do, and how you are about it.

    This is a piece of art. Some of you don't get it. Congrats. Some of you do. Congrats.

    I'm a gay man and a lifelong member of the United Church of Canada. This piece if not offensive to me at all. Why? Because I have a funtioning brain, that's why.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Apr 19, 2011 1:37:04 PM

  9. This is real black heart of Chritianity for all to see. Hatred and fear of all knowledge, intellectual inquiry and especially any art that glorifies or examines the frail, exquisite of the human body: the Devil's Playground. Back to the 5th century AD. Christianity becomes the official religion of the Empire. All "pagan" art destroyed. The library of Alexandria sacked. Hypatia, probably one of the most brilliant and naturally gifted of teacher/philosphers ever to grace this planet, stoned to death and her naked body dragged through the streets. Christianity in action. There have always been Christian terrorists. And now in France. The difference between them and the Taliban? Academic merely.

    Posted by: Michael Edwards | Apr 19, 2011 10:13:17 PM

  10. "Piss Christ" was defaced several years ago, here in Australia. It was also attacked with a piece of hardware (I *think* it was a hammer.)
    I am a Christian and I'm not offended by Serrano's work at all. What I am offended by is the intention of anyone to suppress anyone else's *legitimate* free speech. Granted, I can't really define what "legitimate" means (which is frustrating), but I feel that it occurs when the speech is not intended to advance hatred, and is a thoughtful expression of what someone is thinking, and done so with integrity and honesty, no matter how much I personally disagree with it.
    Anyway, reactions to this incident certainly provide food for thought. Hmmm...

    Posted by: David Hogan | Apr 20, 2011 3:45:13 AM

  11. "Je suis Serrano" as we recategorize this in light of Charlie Hebdo

    Posted by: mikeflower | Jan 28, 2015 10:12:51 PM

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