Chocolate Jesus Artist May Have Lost the Round But He Won the Fight

Brian Zick

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It just never fails. Step 1) The professional victims of offense wail and gnash their teeth about some totally fabricated affront. Step 2) The stupendously blithering idiots in the corporate press rush to publicize the complaint (without ever examining the character of the accuser or the validity of the accusation). Step 3) More people flock to see what all the fuss is about than the author of the alleged (but actually non-existent) offense could ever possibly have dreamed would take notice of his or her work.The AP reports that artist Cosimo Cavallaro "says offers to buy or exhibit the piece have been pouring in" for his anatomically correct chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ, which drew hysterical allegations of offense by Catholic League chief bigot - and supreme imbecile - Bill Donohue.There is commonly a Step 4 in the process, wherein suspicions arise that the accuser was in the employ of the accused all along, or at least in conspiratorial cahoots, to the pre-arranged benefit of both parties. But the reality is that the angry accusers are most always just extremely stupid. As in the, "Oh please, Br'er Donohue, don't throw Cosimo in that briar patch" kind of terminal stupidity.At the risk of invoking Godwin's law, the occasion does prompt acknowledgment of strikingly apt parallels. In the monumental quality of stupid that invariably afflicts authoritarian conformist minds. The very first work of art to greet the visiting public at the entrance to 1936 Munich, Germany's notorious "Degenerate Art" Exhibition was Ludwig Gies' Kruzifixus, a distinctly non-conformist rendition of Christ on the cross. The failure to depict Jesus Christ in approved terms of accepted convention was described by the Nazis as an appalling and contemptible insult, for which the artist and his work were identified for furious public castigation.The whole point of the "Degenerate Art" exhibition, of course, orchestrated by the German government of Adolf Hitler, was to vilify and condemn particular works of art which failed to conform to the Nazis' preconceived notions of "purity" and proper aesthetics. And the show was an astounding success… in attracting people to what remains one of the best attended art shows in history (over two million visitors). And the exhibit featured the work of several artists who ultimately became among the most celebrated of all time.Artwork is like patriotism; it's for history to judge. (And anyone rewarding themselves with favorable attention, in either regard, is likely suffering a significant inferiority complex.) Alternatively, an inverse proportional relationship commonly exists between the "success" of art critics who call negative attention to works of art, and history's ultimately enhanced favorable recognition of that artwork. The formula works in the realm of music as well; Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner both respectively endured enormous critical outrage, and subsequently, in historical retrospect, became highly regarded artistic accomplishments.And so Cosimo Cavallaro joins Robert Mapplethorpe and Andreas Serrano, in the hall of successful artists who owe a great debt of gratitude to their moron critics, who insisted on blaming Rorschach for what they chose to see in the blots of ink.

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