As NYC mayor, Rudy Giuliani once threatened to yank funding to the Brooklyn Museum over this painting, Chris Ofili’s “Holy Virgin Mary,” which then-private citizen Donald Trump called “degenerate.”
Now, it’s at MoMA, thanks to a donation by Trump-donor hedge funder Steve Cohen.
Of course, the word “degenerate” in relation to art has a history. Some of the background to the painting care of @hyperallergic. https://hyperallergic.com/438723/chris-ofili-holy-virgin-mary-gifted-museum-modern-art/ …
In college, way back when, I saw the Brooklyn Museum’s “Sensation” exhibit at the center of this controversy. There were protesters outside, and I remember seeing this painting.
Not yet in my 20s, it was immediately clear, in person, it was a reverent (if iconoclastic) painting.
Ofili, the artist, is British by way of Nigeria, where elephant dung is a symbol of fertility. Viewing the work up close, the figure of the Virgin was repelling images of defilement.
It’s now in the MoMA’s permanent collection. Enjoyed the museum’s re-opening tonight. So many other paintings worth seeing, outside the headlines.
Here’s one: Song Dong’s “Breathing,” with the artist lying facedown in Tiananmen Square in subzero conditions.
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