PRINT Summer 1990


The human body reflects the divine model . . . when, for an instant, the brilliance of divinity hap- pens to fall upon a mortal creature, illuminating him, as in a fleeting reflection, with a little of that splendor that always clothes the body of a god.
—Jean-Pierre Vernant, “Dim Body, Dazzling Body”

The body is precisely the locus for the commerce of desire, the passage of time, the exchange between Eros and Thanatos.
—Achille Bonito Oliva, “The Theater of Mortal Remains”

THE NEWS THESE DAYS is rarely good, but two stories in recent editions of the newspaper were truly shocking: a posse of 15 policemen had stormed the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati and, temporarily, closed down the traveling exhibition “Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment”; and further, medical researchers had suggested that the drug thalidomide be reintroduced on the market as an effective therapeutic treatment for leprosy, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory skin diseases. Individually, each item suggested that the lessons of history had gone unheeded and that, yet again, barbaric, wrongheaded actions could result in potentially catastrophic consequences. Taken together, there seemed a profound justness in their coincidence: each incident focused upon the body, or, more specifically, on how certain images of the body, one artistic, the other clinical, were processed and registered in the mind of the viewer. In the first case, the self-appointed hounds of heaven, bolstered by opportunistic governmental representatives, sought to expunge and expurgate from public view the contumacious images of wanton and illegal acts by moral degenerates photographed by an equally unappealing artist.1 In the second, researchers were about to release to clinicians a drug that has become synonymous with the baroquely malformed bodies of children whose mothers had used the sedative during pregnancy. What linked the two stories was a photographic imaging of the body. If the documentary images of those physically damned by thalidomide—though registered in the memory bank of the brain, easily scrolled up—remind us of Hieronymus Bosch and presage Joel-Peter Witkin, the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe appear as completely idolatrous. By making flesh into god through the medium of the camera, the artist had created potent new cult images.

Idolatrous images and their proscription are not new. Throughout the history of art, cultures have chosen to excise those human productions that question the normative values of the current ruling class. The subsequent excision of the symbols and images of a hated power structure is the major generating force of every iconoclastic episode; its mainstay, the theological arguments against idolatry and sin. According to the iconoclasts of the great Iconoclastic Controversy that raged in the Byzantine Empire for over one hundred years, officially beginning in 730 A.D. with an imperial edict banning religious imagery, icons/images were made of “vile” matter that tempted the illiterate masses of the faithful toward sin. Idols confused that which is represented with that which is, the true heresy consisting in the conflation of the two: the image containing both the idea and the form as identical and equal. The central belief of the Christian faith evokes the inexplicable duality of a God-Man who, by means of His bodily sacrifice, brought about the redemption of mankind. The problem with images, for the iconophobe, was that they were incapable of representing both the human and divine aspects of Christ’s being and that, furthermore, they circumscribed and, thus, limited the infinity of the divine. Not surprisingly, the debate created enormous pitfalls for the artist. The mimetic act of giving form to the Word could all too easily fall prey to cries of idolatry, especially if the creation was too successful.

The history of iconoclasm might be read as a series of fitful episodes that began as early as the 4th century A.D. and continues into our own time. The rules don’t change so much as the players do.2 While most early incidents revolved around the heretical unsuitability of religious works commissioned for an ecclesiastical setting, from the Renaissance onward the potential of secular imagery to seduce the faithful to improper thought or behavior also came under fire. Despite the plethora of theological ramblings, the issue at base was—and is—a question of who was to exercise power and control: control over what could be seen, by whom, and in what form. The ancient Romans had allowed for a concordant discord between their own polytheist iconography and the votive practices and cult objects of the early Christians, but the advent of a new Christian empire in 313 A.D. in the person of the Emperor Constantine I brought with it the immediate suppression of visual epiphanies of the gods. The body continued significant—only think of the body of Christ as it is consecrated daily in the celebration of the Mass, the sacred and central ritual of the Christian faith—but the representation of that same body changed noticeably from the idealized physiques and facial features of the Greco-Roman canon in favor of schematized, almost cartoonlike homunculi.3

The physical presence of the god—in the Greco-Roman sense—finds its way directly or indirectly (the flowers, for example) into the entire body of works created by Robert Mapplethorpe and, for conservative thinkers, is its very undoing. The notion of kalos kagathos, loosely translated as “to be beautiful in appearance and to be well thought of,” forms the core of classical Greek art and society and is the philosophical basis for most images of Greek male figures. Simplified by the Romans, this concept was transformed into “a sound mind in a sound body” (mens sana in corpore sano). In their worship of the body, Mapplethorpe’s ravishingly beautiful athletes and models take on the air of divinity, and hence, for the censor, become idolatrous, especially when seen only in the context of their sexuality. For the men and women of antiquity, a perfect human shell could only act in a certain manner, and was expected to do so; in 1990, Mapplethorpe’s sensual demigods are seen as perfidious in their misuse of nature, their mere presence in our rooms rendering us culpable. By virtue, or rather vice, of our sense of sight, a mere glance at such works implicates us in an act of voyeuristic sexual congress with the gods.

For the Greeks of the Archaic period (6th century B.C.), clear-cut distinctions were made between the bodies of men—sub-bodies—and those of the gods—super bodies.4 The former were mortal and flawed; the latter were immutable and perfect. Man could only hope to imitate the divine anatomy, and, in any case, his physical plentitude was doomed to decay. To depict man as one of the ambrotoi (those who do not perish) was seen as a rash act of hubris.5 Mortals die, their flesh is corrupted, they are doomed to failure.

Mapplethorpe’s entire oeuvre flies in the face of this canon. The flesh of his sitters is incorruptible. He violates the boundaries that necessarily distance man from god. In this he must be distinguished from the modern neoclassicists—photographers like Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts, Herbert List, and their mater familias, Leni Riefenstahl—whose works visually caress their sitters, yet at the same time reaffirm and maintain a kind of cordon sanitaire. Their photographs never violate, but, content with visual titillation, are self-satisfied in a rather sophomoric way. By contrast, even as synecdoches, Mapplethorpe’s photographs engage. More important, his most compelling images are frequently those that focus upon body parts and in so doing fetishize them. The pendulous cock, the gloriously superhuman tumescences, the nipple as omphalos (the navel of the world) send shock waves through the viewer. By fragmenting the body in this manner (a decidedly un-classical Greek device), Mapplethorpe flaunts his disembodied genitalia in the face of his censors, taking the act of desecration/castration/denaturing into his own hands. By inverting it, he proves that the power remains even when the phallus is fragmented,6 and distances himself from earlier artists’ approaches to sexually charged imagery. While the raw, disjointed, and sexually explosive images of Egon Schiele are able to arouse us, they are equally imbued with the artist’s tortured confusion and guilt over his own sexuality. Mapplethorpe’s amalgam more closely approximates that of Gustave Courbet in his L’Origine du monde (The origin of the world, 1866), which has recently been rediscovered. Intended as a private device for the pleasure of the Khalil Bey, the notorious art collector and Turkish ambassador to Saint Petersburg, and not meant for public delectation, the small picture centers on the spread labia of a woman, and offers no narrative. By extension, even Marcel Duchamp’s ultimate work, Etant donnés . . . (Given . . . , 1946–66), created in almost total secrecy and not intended to be exhibited until after his death, provides a Dadaist narrative with a small taint of moralizing—the bride, stripped bare and spread-eagled for the visual rape of the sole viewer, is herself solitary; her pleasure, self-administered, her experience, simply imaginary.

In contrast to all of his art-historical precursors, Mapplethorpe revels in a fully developed sexuality, one that is not only figured but practiced. Unlike Jacques Le Goff, who sees the body as an “historical category steeped in imagination,”7 Mapplethorpe, while relishing the sumptuous role of fantasy, thrusts his images clearly into the realm of the real. For him, there is no doubt of consummation. In this certainty of himself and others as sexual beings lies the abject terror of the censor. As David Freed-berg has observed, “We fear the body in the image, we refuse to acknowledge our engagement with it, and we deny recognition of those aspects of our own sexuality that it may seem to threaten or reveal.”8 Looking at Mapplethorpe’s images, we are found out. For, unlike the male dinner guests of the bluestocking Countess Sabine in Émile Zola’s Nana, 1880, who are forced to fantasize about the shape and feel of her hidden thighs, the viewer of Mapplethorpe’s photographs need not speculate at all. In the face of such presumed idolatry should we be so surprised at the iconoclastic response? Or at its intensity?

Since the legal case against the Cincinnati institution and its director seems to hinge on seven purportedly nefarious images, it might be fruitful to consider these works specifically. Having no access to the record of the court’s indictment, however, I find it difficult, if not impossible, to isolate those photographs that sin in a truly mortal rather than a simply venial way. Even within the infamous “X Portfolio,” the X-rated profanations offer some leeway to the viewer who, like a compliant sexual partner, may agree to submit to some delicious subtleties, but to others responds, “I don’t do that,” inferring, “and neither should you!” Are any of the pictures more heinous in aspect than the others? Or, we might better ask, are some sexual practices, especially sadomasochistic ones (licit or not), too horrible to represent, let alone envisage? Is there some indelible barrier over which, we shudder to think, the body might be pushed? Mapplethorpe thinks not, at least if I read his photographs correctly. There is a choice and there is a decision. The viewer is made aware of all this as he/she contemplates the spectacle. As the essay that accompanies the “X Portfolio” tells the viewer, “These are not rites, these are not religious rituals, these are IMAGES, that’s the strength of it, look into them.”9

Rather than be expunged from public view, it is precisely these most polemical images that should be seen as exemplars of Mapplethorpe’s art. Only when functioning as a supreme artistic oxymoron does his work truly sing. As a character in Peter Greenaway’s film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) says of the talents of the aforementioned cook, “He mixes things that don’t fit together. . . . That’s what makes him an artist.” Consider, for example, Helmut & Brooks, NYC, 1978, the rarely illustrated image of fist-fucking. There is no indication of pain or torture, not even of pleasure. Simply a union. Sphincter muscle almost caressing the intruding limb; limb transformed into sexual organ. In fact, it takes some time to figure out just what is happening. I am certain that Mapplethorpe had every intention of abstracting, pushing, this most physical act to the farthest limit in order that we be forced to reconstruct the dynamics of the sexual act as we decode the picture. There is no question that the work recalls Edward Weston’s 1930 series of photographs of twisted peppers, by which Weston, at an earlier time, endeavored artistically to jump the rungs of the natural order. Mapplethorpe’s hubris is far greater; not only does he reshuffle the traditional ontology, but he rams home the single point: it’s all part of nature.

The one image that does totally threaten humanity, and which sent the proverbial chill down my spine, is Joe, NYC, 1978. A rubber-garbed figure perches atop a wooden bench, ready to spring like some sleek panther. Nothing human remains; there is no perceivable anatomical detail, no breath, no reassurance of epidermal warmth, not a single bit of flesh-and-blood tactility by which we might know him. There is no living presence, not even nominally, just an automaton set on automatic pilot, sensitive to no human response. Compared to this ghastly creature, even the most sexually provocative figures in Mapplethorpe’s pantheon seem chaste. If the photographer ever moralized in his work, this one nasty, soulless embodiment is, for me, the moral indictment.

The crux of the current debate over censorship and homoeroticism concerns precisely the way in which we regard works of art as projections of ourselves and our desires. It is insufficient to say that images, be they painted or carved, are purely representational or referential. In this regard at least, the traditional canonical history of art has been ludicrously simplistic. The most potent works of art, those that generate the most effective response in the viewer, do more than adroitly juggle formal elements into a harmonious composition. When they work, images, like Orpheus, are able to change the nature of things. Freedberg says: “People are sexually aroused by pictures and sculptures; they break pictures and sculptures; they mutilate them, kiss them, cry before them, and go on journeys to them; they are calmed by them, stirred by them, and incited to revolt. .. . They have always responded in these ways; they still do.”10 Recalling the mythological legend of Pygmalion, the king of Cyprus, two aspects of the story become apparent: the dreadful power of the artist whose own act replicates that of the divine; and the power that his ultimate creation reciprocally holds over its master. One need only recall the proscription of the Second Commandment against the making of graven images to understand the gravity of the artistic act: “Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Exodus 20:3).

While members of Congress and the radical right debate the validity of Mapplethorpe’s and others’ work as worthy of federal funding, the deeper question of art versus pornography gnaws at the margin. Despite all protestations to the contrary, it is on this crucial point that, to me, the argument rests. The question is not one of the propriety or suitability of certain subject matter for the realm of art, that is, something Senator Jesse Helms might find suitable to show to/discuss with his wife or that art critic Hilton Kramer might be able to describe in the pages of the New York Times (he couldn’t bear to describe Mapplethorpe’s photographs), but rather that the contested work is art. If one accepts the definition of art, as articulated by Leon Battista Alberti, Erasmus, and Federico Zuccari, as one of the most elevated occupations, far above the other crafts and somewhat akin to magic, then we can understand what is at stake. Simply put, if the artist/shaman is powerful and clever, his black magic can pose the most dispiteous danger to the enemy and be a powerful seducer of the neophyte. If he is no master, if his work is not art, then he can hold no sway, his art will have no proverbial sting. In the ontology of the censor, art does not stimulate the baser urges, pornography does. Yet the very strength of the artwork is its ability, so defined, to arouse and stimulate the senses. In prohibiting a given work, the censor ensures its status as art by underscoring its effectiveness. It is no wonder that conservative critics thunderously endeavor to restrict the debate to normative notions of esthetic standards, thereby eschewing completely any discussion of the more dangerous matters at hand.

Nonobjective abstraction laid out a pretty safe course during the ’50s. The argument was restricted exclusively to formalist critique. While critics might find certain works to be foolish or arrogant, rarely was the word “blasphemy” intoned. Life was simple, the living was easy, and the art was clean.11 With the reintroduction of the body into high art, first through the return of figuration, but more important, through the medium of photography as it documented emergent performance-art events, all the questions of the power plays of art were thrust into the foreground. As we have well come to know, Cindy Sherman, by discomforting us in front of her various personae, makes us fastidiously aware of our bodies, and thus of ourselves. Moving in rapid succession from the body covered to the body transformed a la Circe to the body disintegrated, Sherman sets up a continuum along which we might take measure. If the condom-strewn, vomit-covered works of 1987 were not enough to make her point, Sherman’s latest tour-de-force series of 1989–90 deeply underscores the nexus between art and the body in its emphases on the bulbous breasts and tumescent nipples of the prototypical Madonna Lactens. Art, she seems to indicate, can and does make the real more so. Our physical revulsion, and even fear of contamination, in front of the earlier series suggests that the much-touted link between art space and real space has been truly achieved. That Sherman would choose to overlay the landscape of this series with bodily viscera perhaps indicates her awareness of the medieval connection between women and their mystical/sexual response to images. Ecstatic nosebleeds, stigmatic eruptions, abdominal swellings were frequently visited upon common womenfolk as well as religious mystics in the process of religious worship and private meditation.12

Sherman’s new work, in its hyper- and disturbing reality, might also remind us of much of Caravaggio’s oeuvre, especially of his notorious altarpiece The Death of the Virgin, ca. 1605–06. The official reason given for “displeasure” with the work was Caravaggio’s choice of model for the Virgin, a dead prostitute whose body had been fished out of the Tiber River. In point of fact, the artist’s positioning of the bloated belly of the Virgin at the epicenter of the composition suggests his intention of focusing the worshiper’s eye directly on the part of her anatomy that occasioned her sanctity.13

Art and our physical, nay physiological, responses to it should not go unnoticed if the fear of arousal occasioned by art is to be understood. Viewer reception of photographs makes this notion abundantly clear: recall the stories of the first exhibition of Diane Arbus’ photographs in the 1965 “Recent Acquisitions” show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Visitors were “uncomfortable—threatened—looking at Diane’s stuff,” and expressed their outrage/fear by spitting on the prints.14 This face-to-face retaliation for the artist’s audacity points directly to the present contretemps, and to the reaction to the work of artists like Andres Serrano. Such responses are not new. Pliny (Historia naturalis) recounts the story of the young man of Cnidos who was so enamored of Praxiteles’ famous statue of Aphrodite that he stole into the temple one night and made love to the figure, “thereby staining her.”15

Serrano’s recent “cum shot” photographs are lush synecdoches that merge symbolic references with the almost sacral inclusion of real bodily fluids.16 Only in the last 30 years have artists literally incorporated their own living material into the fabric of their artworks, thereby marking them. Yet the usage of such living excretions as numinous tinctures that stand pars pro toto for the mortal or divine presence has a long and rich history (vide, to cite just one example, the relic of the miraculous blood of Saint Januarius in the Cappella di San Gennaro in the cathedral of Naples). By combining the two, the emblematic and the visceral, Serrano creates a new amalgam of meaning, one that has added significance in the face of both the biological data accumulated about and popular hysteria engendered by the AIDS pandemic. The combination of notions of sexual pleasure with the real danger of viral contagion gives a macabre reading to the French term “la petite mort.” Similarly Ridgeway + Bennett emblazon the word cum across a 1989 painting of the same title. The acrid yellow color chosen for the letters screams out a horrific chant to BEWARE while at the same time inviting us onto the chessboardlike background to engage in the play.

The notion of sexual play, smart and deadly serious, is key to the work of Donald Moffett. For Moffett, also a member of the activist collective Gran Fury, assertion of his sexual identity, dedication to AIDS activism, and the creation of a self-defined erotic model, undeterred by heterosexual proscriptions, are the appointed goals. Moffett would concur with the statement of Gregory Woods that “Eros pitches his house in the human body.”17 Moffett maintains his intense focus on the body, either through his manipulations of images appropriated from gay pornographic films or, in his most recent pieces, through his textual references to bodily orifices as sites of sexual arousal. But, for the artist, imaging the body and its effluvia is not enough. To the senses of sight and touch, the artist adds the sense of hearing by incorporating guttural sexual utterances into his works, “dirty talk” of the bordello. In this manner, they become Sensuround dioramas that are almost impossible to resist—and that’s the point. Deeply concerned that the current homophobic backlash will result not only in governmental constraint but also in a rabid censorship of any sexual desire that does not issue from the marriage bed, Moffett gives equal weight to both the fulfillment of his desire and the angry denunciation of any who would seek to quash it.

His newest work, an elegant reductio ad absurdum of loaded phrases, often of a postcoital nature, reaffirms the need to arouse desire, but the danger in proceeding recklessly. His 1990 installation By accident, I lick all the wrong holes over and over again reiterates a bittersweet regret that might hint at “unsafe” sex or simply at the fickle nature of love, and the difficulties in pursuing it. Each work is consigned to a circular light box that simultaneously evokes both mouth and anus. Moffett underscores the notion that these orifices are the only means by which the body communicates with the world. The multiple “print” Lick, 1990, becomes an emblem of the current dilemma facing all sexual beings in the time of AIDS. This work, perhaps most cheekily appropriate for the bedroom, might be linked to those paintings of noble figures and gods that were utilized as procreative aids in the bedrooms of antiquity. According to Guilio Mancini in his Considerazioni sulla pittura of 1614, “lascivious pictures are appropriate for the rooms where one has to do with one’s spouse; because once seen they serve to arouse one.”18 Even in the midst of the AIDS crisis, Moffett barks out his sexual chant for fear that through outside intervention, the policing of desire might eventually brand his desire, once again, as deviant.

Not surprisingly, these potent admixtures have occasioned yet another instance of censorious diatribes by voices that would choose to police desire, to use Simon Watney’s famous title, and to diminish the potency and range of the visual arts. Coupled with growing attacks against the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe and the performance pieces of Karen Finley, it is clear that the present terrain of battle is the body, the sexual nature of which some would choose to deny. This issue is complicated when we consider the recent debate concerning the appropriate depiction of people with AIDS. Both Nicholas Nixon and Rosalind Solomon have been accused of callousness, voyeurism, or, at the very least, misrepresentation of the subjects of their photographs. While some of this criticism may have been too harsh, such images of the sick and dying—of the body maculate—do, in fact, carry the danger of denying the sexuality of the body, and thereby denying the humanity of the sitters. Stasha Kybartas’ video Danny, 1987, which deals with the friendship between Kybartas and the subject, is the one recent work that has succeeded in merging the nature of the “sub-body,” as discussed above, with the realm of desire. Danny throughout is depicted, and speaks of himself, as a sexual being, albeit a person suffering from AIDS. The poignancy of his plight, which might have made an easy appeal to the censor, is here subverted by a definite, expressed eroticism.

Provocatively, our own debates on censorship and freedom in the arts come at the exact moment that scholars and conservators are preparing to begin restoration on Michelangelo Buonarroti’s fresco of the Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. One of the major questions facing the restoration team is whether or not added drapery (braghettoni) by the artist Daniele da Volterra should be removed and the work returned to its original state. In the middle years of the 16th century, the period of the Counter-Reformation, the church hierarchy sought to disaffirm as well as disallow any intimations of rampant corporeality, the most egregious examples of which were the nude figures in Michelangelo’s fresco. Criticized for placing “art higher than faith,” Michelangelo could only be exculpated and forgiven through a clear public renunciation of his perfidy, a particularly bitter pill for one whose staunch faith was so tightly knitted to his ecstatic notions of male beauty, which, to paraphrase the words of Walter Pater, burned always with a hard gemlike flame. Somewhat tragically, the Byzantine-trained El Greco was later to comment that he “would easily repaint the Sistine frescoes in a more decorous manner.” The decision whether to unveil the figures will indicate whether propriety rather than historical accuracy will prevail. In an iconoclastic vein, it is interesting to note the intensity of the retribution of the censorious tribunals: X-ray examination has shown that certain offending areas were not only painted over but literally gouged out, replastered, and then repainted, the offending “member” having been thus cut out.

This is not a safe time for art—not for an art that speaks to more than mere formalist concerns. Danger is written all around, especially for those artists who are concerned that the capacity to empower that their art provides might be forever denied. This is not the time for safe art, but rather for images that will generate powerful impulses. This is not the moment for skirmishes, but for battles. The symbols of the iconoclasts were simply that. The icons were too mighty to be trusted as our own. Beautiful, proud, rapacious, and ultimately dangerous, these works produced as we teeter on the edge of the abyss are not dispassionate. There is no time for that. Perhaps before they continue on their retributive course, it would be wise for Senator Helms and his followers to reflect upon their role in history. For rather than be seen as latter-day Aristotles standing as sentinels of moral probity, they will only join the ranks of the art vandals. They must be disabused of the folly that by destroying the idols, the things that they represent will vanish. History will show them otherwise. As Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s fragmentary monument Truth Unveiled, 1646, attests, ultimately truth will win out, and she will appear unclothed, unadorned: her very nakedness, shamelessly and bountifully manifested, will be enough.

Thomas W. Sokolowski is director of the Grey Art Gallery and Study Center at New York University.



1. It became impossible to find the name of Robert Mapplethorpe mentioned in the popular press without the attendant clause “the artist who died from AIDS.”
2. For a thorough and insightful handling of the subject, see David Freedberg, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, Chicago: at the University Press, 1989.
3. See, for example, the relief frieze, early 4th century A.D., that runs along the top of the Arch of Constantine, Rome.
4. Jean-Pierre Vernant, “Dim Body, Dazzling Body,” in Zone 3, Fragments for a History of the Human Body: Part One, ed. Michel Ether with Ramona Nadoff and Nadia Tazi, New York, 1989, pp. 18–47.
5. Ibid., pp. 25.
6. The traditional and most effective defacing of statuary was the breaking of the phallus. There is still scholarly debate over the incident of the profanation of the herms of Athens by Alcibiades and his followers. The reason for the destruction and the exact identity of the culprits have never been solved.
7. Jacques Le Goff, “Head or Heart? The Political Use of Body Metaphors in the Middle Ages,” in Zone 5, Fragments for a History of the Human Body: Part Three, pp. 12–27.
8. Freedberg, p. 12.
9. Paul Schmidt, catalogue essay in Robert Mapplethorpe: X Portfolio, New York: Robert Miller Gallery, 1978, n.p.
10. Freedberg. p. I.
11 . There have been modern iconoclastic attacks on abstract art. Note the vandalism of Barnett Newman’s Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue III?, 1966–67, in Berlin in 1982. For further information on this subject see D. Gamboni, “Un iconoclasme modern: Théorie et pratiques contemporains du vandalisme artistique,” Annuaire, Lausanne: Institut Suisse pour l’histoire de l’art, 1982–83.
12. Caroline Walker Bynum, “The Female Body and Religious Practice in the Later Middle Ages,” in Zone 3, Fragments for a History of the Human Body: Part One, pp. 160–219, especially p. 165.
13. It should be remembered that the painting would have hung directly above the altar and that the altar tabernacle containing the consecrated host would have been viewed in direct line with the distended womb of the Virgin. Caravaggio’s heresy, therefore, was a masterstroke of theological understanding.
14. Patricia Bosworth, Diane Arbus: A Biography, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984. p. 234.
15. Pliny the Elder, Historia naturalis, 36.20.
16. After the public outcry of the radical right, Serrano boldly gave his heretofore untitled works the title of Ejaculate or Cum.
17. Gregory Woods, Articulate Flesh: Homoeroticism & Modern Poetry, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.
18. Giulio Mancini, Considerazioni sulla pittura, 1614, ed. A. Marucchi, Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, 1956, I:143.