Giant Skeleton and the Chocolate Jesus

No, not a post about a new psychedelic band but two body-oriented artworks in the news.


The giant skeleton by Gino De Dominicis is on display in the Palazzo Reale in Milan. More pictures at the Wooster Collective and also here. Via Towleroad.


Cosimo Cavallaro‘s My Sweet Lord is due to go on display at Manhattan’s Lab Gallery in New York City on Monday but complaints from the usual suspects are giving the gallery second thoughts. More on that here. It’s okay to make any number of Messiahs from wood, stone, metal or plastic, just don’t dare make a Jesus out of anything edible.

Update: the Lab Gallery showing of the edible Jesus has been cancelled.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said the work was a direct assault on Christians. “All those involved are lucky that angry Christians don’t react the way extremist Muslims do when they’re offended.”

Don’t be shy Bill, you know you’re itching to bring back the Inquisition. So Christians are angry are they? Isn’t that one of the Seven Deadly Sins? Another complaint was that Jesus is shown naked, something that we see in plenty of paintings depicting him as a child. Oh well, the artist and gallery owners can feel relieved they weren’t stabbed or shot for their pains and the forces of Righteous Wrath can file into church at the weekend to eat the body of Christ. You know, like they do every Sunday.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Very Hungry God
Gay for God
History of the skull as symbol

11 thoughts on “Giant Skeleton and the Chocolate Jesus”

  1. Why am I thinking that the censorship on the edible Christ had more to do with his exposed (AND edible) sex rather than him just being plain edible ?

  2. Yes, that seems to be part of the complaint (although they wouldn’t ever mention it being an edible penis!). No surprise given the puritan and body-hating nature of many American Christians but it begs the usual questions… Why is sex and nakedness shameful since god invented them. If god is male, does he have a penis? If so, what is it for? And so on. But you can’t expect sensible answers from people who’ve made a fetish out of a symbol of torture. As Bill Hicks said, “If Jesus comes back, do you really think he wants to see another cross?”

  3. The reaction reminded me of this text you linked me to, about the sexual symbols in Rome : How the naked Christ in the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva was judged offensive and a metal fig leaf eventually hammered on. When I am back from Easter break, I shall have to go and see for myself this “monstruosity”…

  4. Probably the most notorious example is the overpainting of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel:

    “Most of the nudities were painted over, first by Michelangelo’s pupil, Daniele da Volterra, who thereby won for himself the nickname ‘il brachetonne’ or the ‘breeches-maker’.”

    Michelangelo by Ludwig Goldschneider (Phaidon, 1953).

  5. My question is: why does everyone who wants to make scandalous art always depict something seen as Christian? A cricifix in urine; Mary in elephant dung; chocolate Jesus. Why not do something truly unique and immerse a staute of Mohammed in urine? or a picture of Buddha ismeared with feces? Maybe a Ganesh made of peanut butter? Why always Christian? I’ll tell you: because those of the other religions will bomb you and kill you are fight you, and the pubic outcry of hatred will be vastly against you. But Christian? Do your worst.

  6. Hi Mike. I’d have thought that one answer to your question is that artists in a predominantly Christian society make works using the symbols they see around them. Also the symbols that form part of their personal history. Not everyone found Serrano’s Piss Christ to be an insulting work; art critic Sister Wendy Beckett (a nun) didn’t:

    Moyers presses on, asking whether she was offended by Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, a work which, he claims, “denigrates the central figure of your faith.” Again, she begs to differ. While advancing her opinion that Serrano is “not a very gifted young man, but he’s trying to do his best,” Sister Wendy absolutely refuses to see Piss Christ as blasphemous. Instead she reads it as an admonitory work that attempts to say “this is what we are doing to Christ.”

    I’d also point out that “dung” and “piss” are referred to in the King James Bible, Isaiah 36:12:

    “But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”

    The argument that “artists should use symbols from another religion” only makes sense if those artists have a deliberate intention of acting blasphemously. They can then be accused of singling out Christianity for abuse. That wasn’t Cosimo Cavallaro’s intention, nor was it Serrano’s or Chris Offili’s. The argument also doesn’t travel very far. A chocolate Jesus upset some Christians but a chocolate Ganesh doesn’t upset Hindus:

    “A 11-foot high Ganesh idol, made of 15,000 chocolate cubes and 15,000 Gems chocolate tablets, at Tulsi Building in South Mumbai during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival on Monday.” Picture:

    And if you want a chocolate Buddha, just go here:

    Or a Star of David:

    There aren’t any recognisable symbols in Islam since symbolism of any form is proscribed. As I said above; it’s the symbol that counts in a work of art, not any cheap intention to offend.

  7. I blogged about this too: sweet Jesus and ithyphallic deities.

    Pagans wouldn’t have a problem with a chocolate Cernunnos (complete with manly assets) – you only have to look at the Cerne Abbas Giant. In fact Pagans would be queuing up to see a chocolate Cernunnos (but I couldn’t guarantee he wouldn’t get eaten…) How about a chocolate Dionysos? He was ritually eaten, according to legend.

    Kittredge Cherry has some groovy LGBT-friendly depictions of Jesus on her websites, blog and book, Art that dares.

  8. Hi Yvonne. Aren’t there some ceremonies involving the eating of a pagan goddess made of bread? I should know but my memory is struggling today.

    Thanks for the Kittredge Cherry link, I’ve bookmarked that site.

  9. Thought this might be of interest.

    Click below to view work in the exhibition.

    Drop Dead Gorgeous
    October 9 – November 9, 2008

    143 Ludlow St.
    New York, NY 10002 (Bowery)
    hours: Wed. – Sun. 12-7pm

    Jason clay lewis
    drop dead gorgeous

    October 9 – Npvember 9, 2008
    31GRAND is pleased to present Jason Clay Lewis’s Drop Dead Gorgeous. Empathy/apathy, desire/revulsion, poison/panacea, death/life, religion/blasphemy: Drop Dead Gorgeous distills these binaries into Poison/Religion, pushing the boundaries between them. Which is good? Which is bad? Are these judgments even possible?

    The poison pieces reference Empathy: as we go up the food chain, our empathy increases until we reach the ultimate form represented by the Crucifixion. Lewis’s fascination with religious topoi—seen throughout his work—this time focuses on semiotic ambivalence of Christian iconography. “d-CON Mary,” a recognizable form covered in rat poison packaging and prominently displayed bar codes, questions not only the innocuousness of religion but also the commercialization of religious iconography.

    The motif of the skull has reoccurred throughout Lewis’s work, appearing in works ranging from the contemplative Ikebana sculptures, to the death’s head pin-up girl paintings, to the horrors of war as seen in the Torture Panel paintings. Hyperfeminized and seductively posed pinups are topped by bare skulls—a disjunction that causes an abrupt cessation of panting adolescent desire. However, despite its aura of death and horror, the skull also recalls and reaffirms life: if Death were one of these golden haired seductresses, who would be afraid?

    Jason Clay Lewis came to New York in 1991 on a scholarship and internship at Universal Limited Art Editions. From 1992 – 1994 he worked with Jasper Johns as his personal studio assistant. Continuing his education, he graduated from The Cooper Union with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997. Jason has been actively showing for the last several years both nationally and internationally. His work has appeared and reviewed in publications including Art In America, World of Art, Art On Paper and The Los Angeles Times.

    “As an artist, my approach has always been, intentionally, to confound and challenge attempts to make things fit into what we already know and think. I strive to question perceived beauty, passion, life, death, and creation. I have an urgent conviction that art is a passionate and essential affair, a matter of life and death, where one senses the only response to death is art. Without glossing over the violence of the natural world I ask questions about man’s suicidal folly, the one we call progress, a merger into a religion of commerce and profit, of false facades, and using a strategy to make us reconsider our world of visual imagery. I tinker with these visual explanations, trying to give them purpose, direction, and meaning. Always perfectly aware that knowing this constant probing does not have a sequence to a perfect solution. Atypical and fascinating, as an adventurer blending expression, analysis, and experience, I use every means and media available to explore the love of knowledge and depict limits, while trying to push those limits even farther. My interest in unique materials helps to develop my ideas of attraction verses repulsion allowing my work to have both a strong visceral feeling while maintaining a direct cerebral presence.”

    Jason currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

    d-CON Mary 2008, d-CON packaging, fiberglass, 61 1/2″ x 24″ x 18″

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