art attack

Art Attack! Defacing Art – Emotion Versus the Law!

Back in 1972, La Pieta was ravaged with a hammer. I am confessing my age here but I was 12 and my father an art lover and a hobby painter was devastated. Chris Ofili’s The Virgin Mary was defaced at the Brooklyn Museum after many protests that preceded the inclusion of that controversial portrayal of Virgin Mary. The media of the painting included elephant dung (revered in Ofili’s homeland) and bit of pornography collaged into the surface. After 9/11 someone scratched AE911 into the surface of Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People. In Spain just a few years ago an old lady decided to “restore” the fresco of Jesus Christ titled Ecco Homo (she was not authorized to do so) doing irreparable damage than small fresco painting. And most recently, in the winter during a soirée (a poorly guarded ugly sweater party) at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, a young man accessed “The Terracotta Warriors” exhibition and broke the thumb off one of the beloved warriors as a souvenir storing it in his desk drawer at his home in Delaware. The warriors were on loan from China where they are a national treasure.

Please read the following short articles under these links:

1972 Destruction of La Pieta by Michelangelo

Defacing Ofili’s Madonna

An Update With a PIcture of the Ofili Painting (Warning: Coarse Language)

Please review the following video shorts:

Delacroix Liberty Leading the People Defaced – AE 911

Ecco Homo Ruined in Spain

Restorer Weighs in on Ecco Homo (actually rather humorous)

Terracotta Warrior’s Thumb Stolen During Party at Franklin Institute (in December – discovered in early January)

Here are the questions for part 1 of this assignment:
  1. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but clearly these acts are destructive. How do you classify them under the law and how harsh in general should the penalty be knowing that these works range in value from 10s of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars or priceless such as La Pieta by the infamous Michelangelo. If they cannot be repaired or restored like Ecco Homo, does that impact the gravity of the penalty under the law?
  2. Three of these works included the defacing of religious figures. Is the destruction of a god, deity or saint an anti-religious act or not and should it be treated with greater gravity than other works depicting things like still lives or landscapes? Explain your position fully.

  3. Is the work of Chris Ofili (The Virgin Mary; media includes elephant dung, glitter, pushpins, and collage) blasphemous? Why or why not?

  4. The Ecco Homo piece caused quite a stir. First of all it cannot be restored because of the Cecilia Jimenez painted into it using resin based paints so two questions for this one. Her intention was to do good for the church – she wasn’t done yet. Should she be prosecuted for destruction of the fresco of Jesus Christ? Would it had been fairer to let her finish? (Do you think she is skilled enough to finish it? Sorry that is 3 questions but I just have to ask.)

  5. The Ecco Homo restoration by Cecilia Jimenez has become a tourist attraction of sort bringing in money for the church. Cecilia Jimenez wanted some of that money (a cut of the action) as she says that she is responsible for raising funds and awareness of her church on an international level. Is she entitled to monetary gains from her unauthorized “work” on the fresco Ecco Homo?

  6. In the case of the Terracotta Warrior, the individual has been arrested and now the Chinese government has called for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law due to the damage of their property. Should China weigh in on the severity of the sentence or should this be handled by the courts in Philadelphia where the crime occurred. What penalty do YOU think he should serve for taking a souvenir of such value and damaging the statue? (It was found in his desk drawer.) The value of the warrior was millions of dollars.
  7. Do you see destruction of art the same as other things of value destroyed such as historical items? For example, if a national treasure such as the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Liberty Bell or the original notes for the Gettysburg Address were defaced or damaged (i.e. national treasures), is it the same thing or does it have greater gravity then the destruction of a work of art?

Please post your constructive commentary under this area of Discussions. Please see the Scoring Guide BELOW and inside Learning Project 5 in Assignment 13 . This area will be locked upon the deadline. Postings outside the deadline or sent in Mail will not qualify for points. Generic, reactionary answers (example: “I agree with Bob”), one or two line answers will net the least points or zero. Well thought out, critically assessed and intellectual answers will net the most points. Responses to at least one other student after posting to initial questions should have substance and integrity and depth.

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