Mischief or Masterpiece?

Charles 3 Comments

For centuries, artists of all kinds – from Michelangelo to Martin Scorsese, Salvador Dali to Damien Hirst  and Andrew Lloyd Webber to Monty Python – have attempted to convey the meaning of the crucifixion through their work.

For many it has been a deeply personal expression of belief. Now anatomist Dr Gunther von Hagens,   who made his name showing the world the wonders of the human body through his Body Worlds exhibitions, has decided to create a crucifix.

Read more here

Gunther von Hagens certainly knows how to set the critics alight…

Channel Four’s showing of the story of his CRUCIFIXION plastination model,
showing an anatomically correct recreation of Christ on the cross was totally absorbing in more ways than one. From watching the red plastic being absorbed into the arterial and skeletal systems of donor corpses to observing the silent reactions
of the carpenters who prepared the cross I found myself utterly intrigued.
Here we saw a man subdued by Parkinson’s, but still pushing the boundaries of good taste as he lifts the veil on death’s taboo. Here is a man who is not afraid of death, or corpses, or what can happen afterwards… or is he? How did it make you feel? Is von Hagens just out to make mischief as a confirmed atheist? Or was he attempting to recreate some of the world’s masterpieces? What do you think of his extraordinary fascination with death?


  1. Charles

    I watched that… Was mightily impressed with the power of the acid bath to dispose of the body around the plasticised parts. Maybe that Resomation has a future after all! (I know it’s not ‘acid’)
    Herr von Hagens? He came across as a very different man to the cocky nutcase doing ‘live’ autopsies all those years ago. Though I confess to watching every minute of them, and visiting the Bodyworlds exhibits in Brick Lane. It was one of the most informative encounters of my life, (though I did feel uncomfortable wondering how voluntary the volunteers had been, the ones with faces all looked Chinese )
    As you say, he seemed subdued and even humbled by his infirmity.
    Were we meant to think there was a deeper something gong on?
    It was interesting that he aligned himself with Andres Serrano and his crucifixion work . Mischief then!

  2. Charles

    His earlier Piss Christ work was certainly infantile mischief-making. I felt for him in his infirmity but I believe his latest work remains designed first and foremost to shock. As an artist, he’s mediocre.

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