Tag Archives: Joachim Winckelmann

How Sacred Is Sacred Art?

by S.P. Bachelder | Ελληνικά

Broken white statue

As an artist, and an Anglican Catholic, I read with particular attention Addison Hart’s letter on the comments of Shaun King asking for the destruction of white Jesus.   

One must ask then, should sacred art be sacred? Protected from the accidents of history? Or all art? And who decides what is sacred? Or for that matter, what is art? 

As we watched the Taliban destroy the Bamyan Buddhas of Afghanistan, and blow up the ancient African City of Palmyra, and as we now continue to watch zealots destroy the mosques and ancient tombs of Saints that are sacred to all the Abrahamic religions, who can say with certainty what qualifies as sacred or civilization’s patrimony beyond religious relevance? Violence against ideas has expressed itself through the physical destruction of objects of sacred traditions for thousands of years. Professor Erin L. Thompson observed in a June 24th article in the New York Times that we tend to destroy rather than protect cultural objects during times of transition. In fact destruction is the norm historically.  Bronze statues were ripped from pedestals, melted down, recast to look like the winners and returned to the same pedestals. If there was neither time nor money at the end of a war, the victor’s head would be recast and attached to the losers body.

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