Cecilia Gimenez became a laughing stock last year when her bungled attempt to restore a 19th century painting went viral, but now it looks like she’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
The 82-year-old tried to fix the flaking fresco titled Ecce Homo by Elías García Martínez at her local church, the Santuario de Misericordia in Borja, Spain. The result was something that looked like the love child of Justin Bieber and Bigfoot.
The “restoration” became a worldwide sensation and has led to a flood of 57,000 visitors to the once-obscure church. The town, which owns the church, started charging one euro ($1.33) entry, with the money going to the upkeep of the painting and to charity. Now Borja town officials are negotiating with several companies for permission to use the image on everything from wine bottles to coffee mugs, with the artist getting 49 percent of the profits, Art Daily reports.
A spokesman for the town stated that Mrs. Gimenez will donate her portion to charity.
May I suggest she sets up a scholarship for struggling artists with actual talent?
The Phoenix Art Museum is one of the city’s best art spaces. With more than 18,000 objects in its permanent collection, it brings everything from Picasso to medieval Japanese silk to central Arizona. Their Asian collection is especially good.
Now the museum has started the new year with a major new exhibition. Sacred Word and Image: Five World Religions covers the written word and painted image as expressed in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. By showing the art and writings of these different religions side by side, visitors can see how people each faith use them to express their beliefs.
The exhibit includes a wide variety of objects, including Christian icons, Muslim prayer mats, religious texts, sculptures, and much more. One interesting item is a 7th century Japanese printed prayer, one of the oldest printed texts in the world. When Japan converted to Buddhism in the 7th century, the emperor had one million small wooden pagodas built. Each included a printed prayer inside.
Sacred Word and Image: Five World Religions runs until March 25, 2012.
It’s Christmas, when the Christian world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The Muslim world celebrates too because in Islam Jesus is considered a prophet.
Christianity has spread all over the world. One of the best things about travel is the different world views it exposes you to, and one of these insights is that religious artists have created Jesus in their own image. Europe has a white Jesus, Africa has a black Jesus, and Latin America has a Latino Jesus.
So what did Jesus really look like? The Bible is a bit sketchy about his personal appearance, but being a Levantine Jew he wouldn’t have looked like the Nordic hippie we’re familiar with in the West. He probably looked a bit more like this picture above, which is in the 16th century church of Ura Kidane Mihret on Lake Tana, Ethiopia. Brown skin, dark eyes and hair. . .this is what most people in ancient Judea looked like.
Ethiopia became Christian in the 4th century, and is the second oldest Christian nation after Armenia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has built incredible houses of worship all over the country, including the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, stone buildings dug out of the bedrock.
For more on the fascinating culture that produced this image, check out my series on travel in Ethiopia.