In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, artist Michael D’Antuono wasn’t sleeping like most folks. Judging from the timing of his Facebook post, the artist of the painting depicting President Obama in a sacrificial posture wearing a crown of thorns was burning his ego at both ends, online, searching the Web hoping his 15 minutes of fame wasn’t over.
Stoked by a Glenn Beck video, D’Antuono posted: “Thanks for covering me twice now Glenn! Check out this video.” Over on the video, Beck mocks D’Antouno’s claim that he never intended to blaspheme Jesus, asking, “Does anyone know of anyone else who was crucified?” Later, in a tit for tat move, Glenn placed a faux urine-soaked toy of Obama on eBay, titled his artwork, “Obama in Pee Pee,” and put a price tag of $25,000 on it. It was promptly removed. Among other things banned on eBay, the site doesn’t allow anything represented as bodily fluids.
If one takes a step back from the controversy, and perhaps Glenn should, discerning eyes note the canvas lacks the life of a child’s paint-by-number. It is appallingly bad art. But then, this is an artist who admits his inspiration “comes from watching cable television.”
Through December 15, D’Antuno’s painting will be displayed, along with the work of 23 other artists, at the Bunker Hill Community College Art Gallery in Boston. The best point to be made about D’Antuno’s controversial painting, “Truth,” is that the only taxpayer money supporting D’Antuno’s stab at art would be in the form of indirect state and federal funds, which help support the college.
Although, there is press release announcing the campus is one of four recipients to recently be awarded a Bill Gates grant; thankfully, there is no mention of any funds from the controversial National Endowment of the Arts. The last time any artwork caused this much of a furor, a lithograph titled “The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals” by Enrique Chagoya, with images of Jesus Christ involved in “a lewd sexual act,” was displayed at the Loveland Colorado Museum and Gallery.
At that time, a critic of this genuinely vile piece commented: “It never ceases to amaze me how Christianity, God and Jesus can be slandered and perverted so openly and disgustingly in our country. How this is even labeled “controversy” as opposed to blasphemy, and even allowed to continue to be displayed and debated is beyond outrageous. Let’s see, let’s put it to the test. Let us display this SAME “art,” only with Muhammed in the place of Jesus; and we will see if it remains displayed in public … or is immediately pulled in outrage, with heads rolling!!”
There are echoes of that kind of outrage regarding,”Truth.” This rendering, however long Glenn Beck keeps stirring the pot, doesn’t descend to the level of the Loveland piece. One might say that “Truth,” even has a saving grace, Obama’s chin is lowered. Usually, Obama as Jesus portrayals depict Obama in a posture natural to him and black rappers but unnatural for Jesus, nose in the air.
In contrast, some political artists, such as Dan Lacey, at least tap enough originality to turn out a commercial product, if not fine art. Lacey has gained lasting notoriety and a huge following as the pancake painter. His work is sold on eBay; and, it’s amusing, controversial, and original. Political figures are a favorite subject for Lacey.
His Obama paintings consistently continue to bring a decent and steady return for his efforts. A recent painting of Obama in tears holding a “dead Twinkie,” sold for $1,025. Now, that was clever.
Without much fanfare, Lacey also tapped the “Jesus” angle in a recent rendering of Representative Ron Paul, perhaps making an artistic statement that what Obama is to Democrats, Ron Paul is to Libertarians. The key seems to be, “without much fanfare.” Really, Beck should let this bad art die a quick natural death so that it hits the curb sooner rather later. Is it even worth Glenn’s dunking in faux urine?