That was a predictable choice: the museum likes to insult Catholics. This masterpiece, by Chris Ofili, features elephant dung smeared on his portrait of Our Blessed Mother, along with pictures of vaginas and anuses. The media almost never mention the porn.
By Artspace Editors. On top of that, Ofili used cut-out images of female genitalia from pornographic magazines to make butterfly-like figures that float in the painting's background, like unholy cherubim. Was Ofili simply going for shock value with his choice of materials?
It deeply upset Catholics — such as Rudolph Giuliani, who was the Mayor of New York City at the time — and the general public — including Dennis Heiner who tried to deface the painting in As reported by The Telegraphhe brought elephant dung back to London in his luggage and began using it in his work. They assumed it was a front for selling drugs or had healing, mystical powers.
It was one of the works included in the Sensation exhibition in London, Berlin and New York in — The subject of the work, and its execution, caused considerable controversy in New York, with Rudolph Giuliani — then Mayor of New York City — describing Ofili's work as "sick". On a yellow-orange background, the large painting 8 feet high and 6 feet wide depicts a black woman wearing a blue robe, a traditional attribute of the Virgin Mary.
There was much comment about Ofili becoming the first black contemporary artist whose name and work was known to a wider British public. Ofili, compared to Yinka Shoniabre, has never abandoned. It is a mixed media painting, including paper collage, oil paint, glitter, polyester resin, map pins and elephant dung on linen with the size of
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An English turner prize-winning contemporary painter and member of British Artist Movement. Chris Ofili large-scale paintings are reputed for deploying unconventional techniques rippling dots of paint, vibrant palette, variety of applied texture, resin, glitter, collage, magazine cut-outs and most famously elephant dung merging abstraction and figuration; examining and exploring both the contemporary and historical black experience challenging ethnic stereotypes. The artist was a centre of controversy for using elephant dung in his work titled The Holy Virgin Mary.
A new exhibition by British artist Chris Ofili has been greeted with rapturous praise — where once his work was surrounded by controversy. Alastair Sooke explains. Fifteen years ago, though, when Ofili participated in a group exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, the reception he received was anything but rapturous.