The Holy Virgin Mary  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

One of Chris Ofili's paintings, The Holy Virgin Mary, a depiction (portrait) of the Virgin Mary, was at issue in a lawsuit between the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art when it was exhibited there in 1999 as a part of the "Sensation" exhibit. The painting depicted a black African Mary surrounded by images from blaxploitation movies and close-ups of female genitalia cut from pornographic magazines, and elephant dung. These were formed into shapes reminiscent of the cherubim and seraphim commonly depicted in images of the Immaculate conception and the Assumption of Mary. Following the scandal surrounding this painting, Bernard Goldberg ranked Ofili #86 in 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. Red Grooms showed his support of the artist by purchasing one of Ofili's paintings in 1999, even after Giuliani famously exclaimed, “there’s nothing in the First Amendment that supports horrible and disgusting projects!”




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