Is the New Pope Art- Friendly? Read This and Find Out!
A new Pope was elected last night after four rounds of voting. Bells rang out and white smoke appeared in St Peters Square in a traditional precession which culminated in a blessing on the balcony of the worlds Holiest Cathedral. The former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio now Pope Francis 1 is 76 years old and comes from Buenos Aires. But how conservative is this new Pope, and is he art-friendly? The answer is no. Pope Francis I once denounced an art exhibition in Buenos Aires by the Argentinian artist León Ferrari, stating it was “blasphemous.”
Conservative protestors and Catholic church authorities in Argentina launched furious attacks on three art exhibitions during the same period, and succeeded in shutting two of them down, on the grounds that they were an insult to Christianity. The first of the censored shows, closed to the public on Dec. 17, 2004. It featured the works of renowned Argentine artist León Ferrari, who stated that his greatest sin was having confessed that he didn’t believe in hell.
Ferrari’s Buenos Aires show depicted images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary as well as various saints in a blender, an electric toaster and a frying pan. Shortly after the exhibit opened Cardinal Bergoglio, the than Archbishop of Buenos Aires, declared that the exhibition was “blasphemous” and demanded its closure”.
Orchestrated Protests erupted in the area and Cardinal Bergoglio accused the artist of “blasphemy” in an open letter, prompting a group of Catholic lawyers, who called for the show to be closed. A handful of fanatics also invaded the cultural centre and smashed several of the pieces on display, accidentally injuring a woman who was visiting the the gallery. A judge later ordered the city government to close the Ferrari retrospective, because it “wounded the sensibilities of Christians.” According to her statement, the show invaded the privacy of practising Catholics, who constituted the majority and subsequently this gave the court the right to impose their will in having the exhibition closed.
León Ferrari was born in 1920 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a sculptor, poet, graphic and conceptual artist. In 1962, he started experiments exploring the connections between the manuscript and the image in a series called Cuadros escritos (written paintings, 1964). In 1965 Ferrari exhibited his sculpture La civilización occidental y cristiana (Western Christian Civilization) at the Instituto Di Tella. It is an irreverent work that debunks the iconic religious image of the crucifixion in order to make a political statement. The Catholic Church first forced the authorities to censor and later close this exhibition. Since then, Ferrari’s poetic discourse and narrative art have been challenging the religious ideology entrenched in art.