Monday, August 5, 2013

Why we need to study Western art history and Christian iconology...

So the latest internet furore concerns someone named Jaycees, who evidently is a someone everyone else knows (I guess from the Junior Chamber of Commerce or something) wearing a shirt showing Satan having sex with Jesus. Kinda ho-hum after photos of crucifixes in jars of urine and Elephant Feces Madonnas, but I suppose anything to get a rise out of people these days. I don't really get most modern "art" or "culture", so please forgive me.

Andres Serrano, Piss Christ (1987)

Chris Ofili, "The Holy Virgin Mary" (1997)

Here is a picture of Jaycees, who is supposed to be an Illuminati and Kabbalahist, with someone else who the website identified as his usher... maybe he's at a movie or something. I don't quite understand it all. His usher seems to be wincing painfully, either at the image on the shirt or maybe at the chains -- didn't they get the message about the Emancipation Proclamation?  Again, I don't really get all these modern symbols and "hip" stuff out there like "wrap muzak", so again please be patient with me.

Usher and Jay-Z

Evidently the T-shirt is a popular item, since there is another picture of someone named Young Joisey -- maybe he's from Hoboken or in the fabulous Broadway musical Joisey Boys, as they say in Hoboken -- sporting the same thing under the same "bling". That shirt, as the sources notes, is also "the same sacrilegious Satanic shirt". 

Rapper Young Jeezy wearing the same sacrilegious Satanic shirt
So these wrappers are, I guess, sporting some "threads" to show us how transgressive they are all -- another one named ?uest!ove said that Mr. Jaycees is some sort of "Anti Christ to a certain kind of Hip-Hop fan."  I'm not sure if that's a double negative or not, anyone who hates hipping and hopping can't be all bad, which would mean that he's a sort of Christ to the rest of us, though I don't know what he'd be saving us from.  But again, I plead ignorance in the subcultural markers here. My specialization is in western art history, and preferably before Picasso decided he hates women's bodies and faces.

Now I am certainly against pictures of Satan having sex with the Body of the Lord -- sacrilege, blasphemy, necrophilia, and liturgical abuses against the Eucharist all rank way up there for me. I've been accused of engaging in "crumb theology" for challenging a pastor in Berkeley who administered crumbly honey cakes at Communion.  It all speaks to the same thing  in my book. Attacking Christ in the face of others or attacking Christ directly is still an attack on both God and humanity.

But my training in art history also helped me recall a similar image -- I knew I'd seen that picture before somewhere.... I just couldn't imaging that the Vatican Museum would have a picture of Satan having his way with Jesus.

Caravaggio: "The Entombment of Christ" (1603) in the Vatican Pinacoteca

I suppose I need to learn more about hippity hoppity music and modern urban culture.  Some folks probably need to learn something about the great artistic traditions of Western Christianity.

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