Grotesque has become sublime

To the Editor,

Thirty-one years ago, Andres Serrano, an artist-photographer, urinated into a bottle. Then he immersed a crucifix in the brimming receptacle, and after taking care that none of the precious liquid overflowed the vessel, photographed his handiwork. Heralded by the liberal cognoscenti, Serrano’s creation became recognized as one of the greatest achievements ever in the history of art. The cognoscenti named this nouveau work of art “Piss Christ.”

Like a meteor in the night, its creator rocketed to fame, and from patrons in the explosively burgeoning sphere of art, extracted hefty sums for the privilege of having a glimpse at this 20th century grail, which they gladly paid.

Droves of experts, dilettantes and vulgarians without the foggiest apprehension of Georges Braque’s cubism or even the Dadaistic scribblings of infants flocked to witness the marvel. Words utterly failed them, so ineffable was its quality. Cynics who’d come to scoff lay prostrate before the radiant font while weeping tears of joy. “I’m going to be a better person,” one of them blubbered. Some perceived a fragrance of lilacs–yes, nothing less than the ethereal perfume of lilacs. Fragrance emanating from a photo, can you imagine that?

Who needs Maurice de Sully, who needs Cézanne or Baudelaire? What is the Notre Dame Cathedral but a vast tomb, an empty vault frivolously ornamented with the ostentatious trappings of decadence? Lock Rodin’s “The Thinker” in some musty closet where he may continue his morose contemplations in gloomy silence. What are the metered rhymes of Baudelaire but the vain musings of a poetaster? These are trifles, nothing but boring rubbish when compared with the sanctified urine-lade vessel. C’zanne might well have daubed on brick or wood.

Point the finger of scorn at Ampre, Fourier and Laplace. Take all the mathematical treatises, all the voluminous tomes on engineering and science and cast them on the dung heap to be set ablaze. Take all the rocket scientists, engineers, mathematicians and professors and give them shovels and brooms that they may clean streets and alleys. With an alchemy that finally works, putting a man on Mars should now become a matter of mere wishing.

Scurry then, my friends, to our beloved brethren, the liberal cognoscenti, for enlightenment for having dwelt too long in darkness. Beg them to clasp you to bosoms brimming with the milk of human kindness that there you might for a while sup. May you too share in the bliss experienced by the vast throng prostrated before the ethereal font.

No mere aberration, Piss Christ inspired a new genre of art. The grotesque has become the sublime. Images of animal carcasses and skeletons are hailed as masterpieces. Sadomasochistic art has experienced a revival. Not to be outdone, aspiring young artists have put on display cans filled with a substance known as “caca.”.

Think of it my friends. After lilacs, who knows what delightful fragrances and what new treasures may lie in store? To start with, an excellent site would be provided for flies to hatch their maggots.

Gail Wickstrom

Newell

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