The ever-trendy, ever-rapacious Art World, always on the lookout for a hot new genre, found a gusher last week at the contemporary art auctions in London—paintings and sculpture mocking The Virgin Mary.
The Wall Street Journal writes, “Buyers at both Sotheby’s and Christie’s battled fiercely for art by midtier names portraying religious themes that dealers deemed too risky to forcefully promote just a decade ago. Christie’s broke the record for British artist Chris Ofili with ‘The Holy Virgin Mary’, a controversial portrait of Jesus Christ’s mother made with elephant dung. It sold for $4.5 million.
“Sotheby’s also sold a work challenging Christianity, a 2007 wax and metal sculpture by Belgian artist Berlinde De Bruyckere, dubbed ‘Pieta’, the term for a depiction of Jesus’ mother Mary cradling the body of her crucified son. It brought $422,000.
“Sotheby’s specialist Cheyenne Westphal said, ‘Collectors are becoming more receptive to works that previously were thought religiously controversial.’ “Neither auction house, however, has tested works mocking Islam, an unlikely experiment in the wake of the attacks against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, according to auction-house specialists familiar with the matter.”
On qz.com, Anne Quito is more descriptive: “Ofili’s painting depicts ‘The Holy Virgin Mary’ as a black Madonna wearing a blue cape parted to reveal a breast made of dried and varnished elephant manure. Similar to Old Master paintings, Mary is surrounded by angels—only here they are drawn in the shape of genitalia. And the 8-foot-high canvas is propped on two lumps of dried dung.”
ORB SAYS: Congratulations to Christie’s and Sotheby’s for their success peddling schlock “challenging Christianity.” As the WSJ article points out, it is “unlikely” they will auction works mocking Islam, just as it is unthinkable they would try to sell art ridiculing Judaism or Hinduism. These guys know how to pick their targets, and Christians are sitting ducks.