So instead, they manufacture it:
Artist Michael D'Antuono's painting "The Truth" – featuring Obama with his arms outstretched and wearing a crown of thorns upon his head – will be unveiled on April 29 at the Square's South Plaza.
According to a statement released about the portrait, "The 30" x 54" acrylic painting on canvas depicts President Obama appearing much like Jesus Christ on the Cross: atop his head, a crown of thorns; behind him, the dark veil being lifted (or lowered) on the Presidential Seal. But is he revealing or concealing, and is he being crucified or glorified?"
Even the title of the piece, "The Truth," suggests a play on biblical themes, as Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
"More than a presidential portrait," writes D'Antuono on a website touting the painting, "'The Truth' is a politically, religiously and socially-charged statement on our nation's current political climate and deep partisan divide that is sure to create a dialogue."
Like others in the news who have depicted Obama in Christ-like imagery, D'Antuono insists he isn't claiming the man is Messiah, but only inviting "individual interpretations."
"'The Truth,' like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder," claims the exhibit's press release.
Actually, it isn't and no one can set the record straighter than The Anchoress on this:
Obama is a guy who goes to Georgetown and has them cover the name of Jesus before he speaks. He tries to sell his economic plans on Jesus’ parable of the building on sand or rock, but can’t be bothered to utter Jesus’ name. But he has never, not once, told these people to stop with the messianic stuff. He’s a Christian, right? He sat in Jeremiah Wright’s (for better or worse) Christ-professing pews for 20 years. He allowed George Stephanopolous to correct him when he said “my Muslim faith” in order to clarify his Christianity.
One would think that as a Christian, Barack Obama would have long-ago asked his supporters to stop the messianic stuff. He is a politician; he could diplomatically have said, “you know, guys, I’m not the messiah, let’s tone it down, can we? The comparisons to JFK, FDR and Abraham Lincoln really are enough…” That would have been charming and it would have stopped this nausea-inducing messianism in its tracks.
But Obama did not do that. He’s never said a word against the images which create a sub-conscious narrative, and so his silence implies a troubling consent. It will be interesting if, when he makes his controversial trip to Notre Dame for its Commencment, he wears the traditional ND robe, threaded with the name of Jesus Christ.
The “Truth”? In its press release, we read: D’Antuono even invites the public to email him with reactions to the piece, answering his posed question, “What’s your truth?”
More and more, as I talk to college students and as I encounter people who are committed to the notion of relativism and individual “truths” I am moved by the prophetic nature of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s last warning to us before he became Pope Benedict XVI, against “building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”
And all of this reminds me of a story recounted by Daniel Johnson in the New York Sun:
Günter Grass, in his memoirs, recalls an encounter with the young Joseph Ratzinger while both were held in an American prisoner-of-war camp in 1945. The young Grass, a Nazi who had been proud to serve in the Waffen-SS, was taken aback by this soft-spoken, gentle young Catholic. Unlike God, the future pope played dice, quoting St. Augustine in the original while he did so; he even dreamt in Latin. His only desire was to return to the seminary from which he had been drafted. “I said, there are many truths,” wrote Grass. “He said, there is only one.”
The truth; there is only one.
Indeed. And Obama ain't it.
UPDATED: W&W has late breaking news:
The artist is withdrawing it from display. Here's why.
I just thought that through that painting people would see different things. The right and the left would have different interpretations of it based on their political lens. But I have to admit I was very surprised that instead of that I got thousands of email complaining on the religious front. And that was not my intent at all. I wanted to create a dialog politically but not religiously. I didn't mean to make fun of anybody's religion; maybe I did so naively but I didn't mean it that way. In the bible Jesus is The Truth and comparing Obama that way isn't something I meant to do at all.
Apparently, I've upset a lot of people. And I've decided that's not what I wanted to do and I'm not going to display it in the park on Wednesday ... art is meant to be somewhat provocative but the religious element went way farther than I had anticipated
It's astonishing anyone could be that naive or that ignorant; but it's refreshing to find an artist for whom provocation is not the highest value.
It's also astonishing to find a work withdrawn due to rethinking of its purpose rather than because of potential beheading.
I wonder if he'll be blacklisted by the "artistic community"?