The Virgin in Brooklyn.

So what exactly is all the controversy about? As I understand it, There’s a picture in the Brooklyn Museum of a woman surrounded by vaginas and poop, titled “Virgin Mary”.
I’ve searched for info, but found nothing. What is the artist trying to say? Are the “decorations” done in a disrespectful manner?
I mean, the artist may be commenting on the loss of religion in our society. Or he/she may be defaming a important icon of christianity.
Can anyone show me a link to a site that addresses this exhibit.
Has anyone seen it?

Work like you don’t need the money…
Love like you’ve never been hurt…
Dance like nobody’s watching! …(Paraphrased)

the painting/sculpture is of the virgin mary and created out of elephant dung. The artist comes from nigeria and they often create things out of it because when it is processed a certain way it becomes like clay(in many parts of Africa they use elephant dung to plaster houses). The picture is surrounded by cut outs of butts. An interview with the artist when he was in England, he said that he wanted to portray the feminineness of the virgin by using the cut outs of the butts (or female genitalia as some agencys have called the cutouts).
Granted, I am Catholic and I see why they are upset but I think they should get over it, when you put the symbol before the idea or the person behind it, you lose sight of what that person or idea stands for.

Time was I stood where thou dost now
And view’d the dead as thou dost me
Ere long you’ll lie as low as I
And others stand and gaze at thee

But is it art? Probably hasn’t mattered for centuries whether the contents of art museums is artistic. Why don’t they just call the Brooklyn Museum of Modern Art a museum of personal expression, and then NYC can’t claim it’s being misused, no matter if you bring a heard of elephants in there and give them religious paintings on which to vent their expressiveness.

Ray (The eye of the beholder should not be place too near the rear end of any of the elephants.)

According to a report in the current New Yorker, there is one small piece on elephant dung on the painting, which looks much like a mass of mangled hay. There are quite a few photographs of female genitalia pasted to the painting. The portrait portrays Mary as a black woman in a style derived from native African art. This is much more apparent than the small bit of dung (which only an elephant expert would be able to identify). I’m surprised no one has charged that Giuliani was really offended by the fact that Mary was show as a black woman.

You have to remember that Guiliani is planning to run for Senator. To win, he has to get the support of upstate New York (the part of the state north of NYC). He’s evidently assuming that the upstaters are more likely to approve of his stand (NYC residents, including Catholics – are overwhelmingly against him). It will position him so that he can distance himself from the bad reputation NYC has upstate.

While i was at home (UK), i don’t recall many of these exhibits stirring up much controversy, except for the portrait of Myra Hindley (the convicted multiple child murderer) composed from small childrens’ hand prints…personally, i thought it a little tasteless, but i don’t really like criticise as, in general, my understanding of ‘art’ is evidently zero. Would a portrait of a US child killer, the details of which were made up from childrens’ hand prints, have been acceptable to the American public?

Yes, well it is an interesting race among us upstaters. The predominatly Republican upstate has a choice of Hillary Clinton and Guiliani. I’m going to have to vote on an empty stomach so I don’t break my no vomit streak.

This has not enamored Guiliani in our hearts and I don’t suspect much else will before the election. Mostly to me, a registered Republican who ends up usually voting half and half, it just makes him look like an idiot.

He doesn’t seem to know the first thing about the areas he visits or the concerns of the upstate voters in general. If he thinks taking a stand against elephant dung will gain him votes, he’s going to have a long campaign ahead of him.

Tenacious, like a coonhound tracking a poodle in heat.

I’ve always found it interesting when people attempt to dictate what IS art and what is not. Personally, I consider art the same way I do fun. No one can dictate to someone else what is or is not fun–it is strictly a matter of opinion.

Now, so far as what is acceptable to the general public…that is a different story. But if you are going to set up ART museums, then no one can dictate what goes in them solely on the basis of whether or not they think it is art. The only basis they would have for disallowing a piece is if it was illegal in some way (child pornography, included photocopies of classified government papers etc.)

Born O.K. the first time…

They do it to themselves, the idiot right-wingers. They raise such a fuss that everybody (me) wants to see what it’s all about. If they’d just shut up and chill, nobody’d really care.
Bert and Ernie, indeed.
So, does anybody know how I can view this particular artwork without going to Brooklyn? Love NYC, but can’t afford the trip.

We regularly have cases like this at The Art Institute of Chicago. Students at the School of the Art Institute love to tweak their benefactors (private and corporate donors) by producing controversial works such as the painting of the late mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington, in women’s underwear and an exhibit that required the viewer to walk on an American flag.

The School of the Art Institute puts these things on display (the Washington picture was GREAT) in spite of the invariable public outcry (and sometimes even a restraining order by a handy ignorant illiterate circuit court judge) because they support the notion of freedom of artistic expression. The general public goes nuts (I love it!) but our venerable museum thumbs its nose and says “You no play the game, you no make the rules.” I give them money on a regular basis.

Actually, the portrait of the killer done in children’s handprints sounds very powerful…

“Cluemobile? You’ve got a pickup…”
OpalCat’s site:
The Teeming Millions Homepage:

My modest contribution to your appreciation of culture:

Few additional tidbits:

P.S.: I think there is a discernable trend forming.

Rush out and read Tom Wolfe’s “The Painted Word,” a great little book on (against, really) the concept of “modern art.”

One of the objections to the show is that people are getting fed up with the self-indulgence of talentless, untrained “artists” who get paid a fortune for doing something that looks like the cat left on the stairs. Yes, yes, I am on the side of Morley Safer! Call me a reactionary if you will. . .

Well put, Flora. Couldn’t agree with you more. There’s also the case of well-known, talented, artists who sometimes, just for the kick of it, take advantage of the connoisseurs’ (read many critics and patrons of the arts) gullibility. I say more power to them. And then there are the well-known, fundamentally untalented artists, who live off their overblown reputations and take public and critics for all they’ve got. Until the world finally wakes up and realizes it’s been had; usually these ‘artistes’ read about it by the pool on the patio of their villa somewhere in Switzerland. And smile.

I can’t imagine why anyone thinks Giuliani is insincere, and just pandering for votes, by acting upset about the porn/dung Mary. I mean, this guy’s built himself a major reputation by cleaning up Times Square and re-doing the zoning laws to keep pornography and stuff away from the general public. You may disagree with his stance on the issue, but it’s hardly out of character for him, which is something I’d use as a criterion for determining whether a politician means what he says or is just pandering.

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

I don’t know if it’s art, but that photo of Ofili’s “Bag of Shit” really made my day! :slight_smile:

“For what a man had rather were true, he more readily believes” - Francis Bacon

Regarding “art” that constitutes a joke played on the one who commissioned it and on the public, has anyone here ever been in the Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago (77 W. Jackson)? There’s a “sculpture” in the lobby which is basically a huge mass of scrap metal welded together and then chrome-plated so it’s shiny. The further joke – at the expense of the federal Treasury, mind you – is that the title of this exercise in the ironmonger’s “art” is “The Town-Ho’s Story” while the plaque at the base of the object gives the “artist’s” twisted and contrived explanation of the name so that it purportedly doesn’t mean what a person with an ounce of common sense would interpret it to mean. Honi soit que mal y pense, you philistine federal functionaries! Now send me my check!


The guy doesn’t know what town he is in half the time he is upstate.

He changed his mind on the NE Dairy Compact shortly after Hillary came out in favor of it. Yeah they changed it slightly, but the basic concept was the same. And don’t even get me started on that.

Frankly I don’t know his record that well but he doesn’t seem to know that much about upstate NY either.

My own favorite piece of crappy public art (literally) is the giant dog turd at Park Avenue and 47th Street in Manhattan.

It’s this huge, twisted metal thing, about 10’ high. No one really notices it till I mention, “ever notice it looks exactly like a giant dog turd?” at which point they go, “omigod, you’re right!”

And had anyone else noticed how the Guggenheim Museum–since they added a high-rise to the back of the original roundish building–looks just like a huge toilet? Now if they’d only add a flush handle . . .

Flo: it’s been more than 10 years since I last went to NYC and I don’t recall if said dog turd was affixed to the landscape at the time. But from your description, I believe we have a closely resembling piece of…art lying in one of our parks. (When the glitterati call such creations objets d’art, their value is automatically raised by tens of thousands of dollars). It is fairly imposing, reddish brown in colour, and has attracted pretty much the same reaction from several passers-by. No flies yet, though.

I once read about an artist who took a crap in a can, called it “Artist’s Shit”, and exhibited it. He managed to sell it. He had made several. He managed to sell those, too. I think that after a certain point, it becomes clear that artists are going to do whatever they want, and Rudy should be grateful that this is as controversial as they’re going to get right now. So, Rudy, if you don’t like it, don’t go. And if that guy with the cans does an exhibition in my town, I’m not going, either… but I won’t try to stop him.