Censorship and the Museum
- “Piss Christ” (1987)
What is art? Can it be defined in any single painting, or sculpture? Is it even something that can be seen, or does it have to be experienced? The term “art” is so vague that it can be applied to almost anything, really. Mostly, however, art should be that which frees our imagination. It connects our conscious with our subconscious, putting into a visual form what we feel and think. It allows us to explore our inner self and fill that urge to understand our minds and our universe. Art helps us to see beyond the ordinary, to see what is in our hearts without being blinded by reality. When an artist creates a painting, it is not to create a picture; it is to create a feeling or mood. The purpose is to convey an emotion, and, it is hoped, to make the viewer experience that same emotion. The painting is really just the final result. Pablo Picasso once said “…the thing that counts, in painting, is the intention of the artist…What counts is what one wants to do, and not what one does… In the end what was important is the intention one had.”
So, what happens when artists are judged only on their final result, with no consideration to the purpose of their artwork? Censorship happens. That's right, every day in America, the “Land of the Free,” another artist falls victim to censorship. Everyday, despite rights guaranteed by the constitution, people are being oppressed-by school officials, librarians, committee chairpersons, and even by those in government positions. Andrew Serrano's painting Piss Christ (1987) has caused an overwhelming amount of controversy and the wide response is undeniable. Serrano’s Piss Christ is a color photograph of Jesus being crucified on a cross while being pissed on. In response his photograph, Serrano has received death threats and hate mail and has lost grants on the one hand, and on the other has enjoyed dozens of laudatory articles and a...
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