Obama Art Unveiling Suppressed

by Jason Fischer

Artist Michael D’Antuono was scheduled to publicly unveil his painting (pictured below) in New York’s Union Square Park this morning, to commemorate Obama’s 100th day in office. However, due to “thousands of emails and phone calls; online blogs and other public commentary received in the first 48 hours following its release”, the event was canceled. (source)

Should this speech be suppressed? What do you think?

36 Responses to Obama Art Unveiling Suppressed

  1. Adam says:

    There’s a major problem with the way you presented this article. Your usage of the passive voice in saying that this art was “suppressed” makes it sound as if some government agency is preventing this art from reaching the public. That’s not what happened at all. The artist himself, not some third party, chose not to unveil this art to the public.

    At best, your characterization of this art as “suppressed” is true only if you stretch the definition of suppressed as far as it will go. At worst your characterization of the event intentionally misleads your readers by invoking language very commonly associated with strong First Amendment protection. I think this is disingenuous.

    • Ugh, I know. Fischer and his liberal ways.

    • jfischer1975 says:

      Apologies for any confusion, but I disagree with your assessment. “Suppression” can come from many places — not just the government. That’s how the marketplace of ideas is supposed to work. I was as specific as possible (quoting from the original press release) about the events that prevented the unveiling of this painting.

      It’s funny (to me) how you (Adam) picked up on my tone (passive). Mostly, I was trying to avoid injecting my own opinion into the story. I’m more interested in what “the masses” have to say. I want to know whether the thousands of people who complained to this artist represent the general public or just a noisy minority.

  2. tarakirstenk says:

    Hmm Adam–point well made. However- isn’t self suppression generally a response to societal implications –and thus indirectly creates a masked form of what plausibly could be construed to fit your definition?
    I’m pretty sure that painting has the potential to fail the Miller test depending who gives it…

  3. tarakirstenk says:

    I’m just saying…

  4. jesschristensen says:

    So, maybe the bigger point is that Mr. D’Antuono is kinda a pussy for caving in to the religious hysterioso?

    • jfischer1975 says:

      Pussy, yes… and an idiot for not anticipating said religious hysterioso.

      • Or he did anticipate it, and this all plays into his plans. Banned art gets an immediate boost. See “Piss Christ” — another example of religiously themed/irreverent art that didn’t offend any religious sensibilities I have (as I have none that you could probably identify) but was just plain stupid and unworthy of attention for its sheer SoHo/talent-free lameness.

    • Hugo B says:

      …That was my first thought.

  5. Robert says:

    I can’t decide if he is an idiot or a genius.

    He has been able to generate all this hype and then he makes the painting less available — increasing the demand and creating more publicity.

    I don’t know the artist’s motivation, but it seems that the painting just reflects much of the reaction to Obama, and the religious hysterioso is just missing that message. Maybe it was a compliment (from D’Antuono) to think they could appreciate it.

    • jfischer1975 says:

      um… the totally misplaced, completely unfounded, ridiculously over-the-top, brainwashed, sycophantic reaction? yeah. total compliment.

    • Tatiana says:

      Robert,
      I agree with you on the idiot or genius part. Perhaps a brilliant marketing scheme as how else to make oneself more interesting and curious as to create what would obviously be a big commotion, as anything religious tends to be, and then back out trying to the good boy. The deed was done. The effect was discourse and that’s always smart.

  6. jesschristensen says:

    I’d be surprised if he didn’t actually see it coming (or, perhaps wanted to stir up a little shit, just not a whole crusade’s worth). He just punked out under the pressure.

  7. I think it ought to be suppressed – but by the marketplace of ideas. Lets face it. It is pure crap.

    • jfischer1975 says:

      No WAY!! I love this picture. I laughed out loud when I saw it. It perfectly illustrates the kind of demigod status that all the mindless sheeple have attached to this guy because the TV told them to.

      • Maybe I’m missing something that you see in the media – but I haven’t really seen anyone look to Obama as any kind of a spiritual leader.

        Yes, the black community went a little apeshit, but I think anyone could understand that. When you’ve spent 400 years getting fucked, it feels good to see your “team” win. I went a little bananas when the Sox won in 2004 — I get the black community’s exuberance.

        However, many on the Left are very upset with Obama. The “women in very comfortable shoes” contingent is still pissy that the D party made the “sexist” choice.

        I think that the excitement about BHO (at least mine) is centered around the fact that the last 8 years were an absolute disaster. Obama is about the most resounding repudiation of those 8 years that we could have come up with — while still remaining sane. (For example, we could have elected Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul, but lets face it, despite any positive traits they may have, they are all a bit nutty).

        • Tatiana says:

          To me the Jesus theme interprets to the hope that America has for salvation after GW Bush fucked it up. I think it’s brilliant, witty, provocative, intelligent and brave.

      • jfischer1975 says:

        You’re one of the rare few who can actually articulate a rational reason for why you voted for the guy. The majority of people I know who did can’t tell me why without using the words “hope,” “change,” or some other buzzword that was drilled into their heads during the campaign. I guess I get a little too indignant when it is clear that someone isn’t thinking for themselves.

        • Well, thanks for the credit… but I don’t know if it is all due. “Change” worked for me. It was a “change” just electing him. I’m vehemently anti-affirmative action, yet the thought of electing a black president was moving to me. I wouldn’t, however, have voted for just any black guy. Had it been Jesse Jackson or Alan Keyes, I would have voted for the back of my balls before voting for them.

          But, the “change” of saying that we can have a black prez was good enough for me. As long as he doesn’t go down in history as the shittiest prez ever, I think that one mission was accomplished just by electing him.

          Similarly, I think I’d be more inclined to vote for a woman, if a reasonable one were put before me. Hillary is NOT what I have in mind though.

          The other “change” that I was delighted with — the man is actually intelligent AND embraces his intellect. GWB was either a moron or hid his intellect lest he offend his supporters. Think of idiocracy, when anyone showed intellect, it made them a “fag.” After 8 years of GWB, and 8 years of Clinton, and memories of Reagan still haunting me, I was ready for a guy who both had brains AND didn’t try to hide them. (GHWB was a bright guy, and I sorta wish he had won his re-election bid).

          Lets face it… the above are not deep thoughts.

          I think there is plenty of brainwashing to go around on both sides. For every person who voted for BHO for “hope,” there was a Palinite who voted for McCain on the platform of “values” or “pitbull” or whatever. That is in every election. Lets face it, if you and I were both voting with our actual political beliefs, we probably would have both voted Libertarian. We made compromises. The plebians voted on brand name. The black vote voted for “their man.”

          I get just as indignant as you when “it is clear that someone isn’t thinking for themselves.” (Part of why I respect you, despite the razor thin degree of political agreement we share). But, if people thought for themselves, capitalism would completely collapse — because without advertising, we’d buy a lot less shit, the population would crash, and there would be utter chaos.

          Sometimes, I think it might be better that 90% of the population just grazes on their reality TV, their shitty beer, their McDonalds, and their “I want that because I saw it in a commercial” attitude. If nothing else, if everyone thought for themselves, who would clean the toilets?

  8. troopm says:

    Marc,
    I made an attempt to cross the line of religious art and found myself at the center of controversy, receiving hundreds of thousands of emails, many containing death threats. Religious groups are currently stifling artists worldwide and want artists voices suppressed. They want the media spotlight pushed away from matters of the church, especially concerning matters such as sex, race and politics that go against the grain of the mainstream churches political structure.

    If you think I might be wrong, make an attempt to cross this line yourself, anywhere in the world, and see the response you receive. I have lost most of what I work many years for, because I crossed this road, mixing religious, art and sexual imagery in a statement of how the church has treated women.

    This artist has taken Obama, a great man, and made him a symbol of the new Masaya, the second coming of Christ. Of course in the age of the new conservative, the straight Hagard and Sara Palin, this did not go over well. We have lost our freedom as artists!

    The church decides the “trends of art” for the upcoming century. They have done so for the past millennia by pressuring and prosecuting artists. They promote the one that supports the views of the church and shun those who do not, well I guess I do not share their views……lol.

    Religion has robbed us of our rights to artistic freedom. This painting has a right to be, and has a right to be presented to the man it was commissioned for. Obama is a man who believes in god, a man of faith. Let him judge its worth, not a church whose desire to control shadows its judgment.

    • My comment was not intended to mean that I think anyone should be able to un-naturally suppress it. What I mean is that I think the art itself is simply lame, and the marketplace should simply reject it for its lameness — not because it crosses any taboo line. Lets face it, “Dogs Playing Poker” has more artistic merit than this.

      • Hugo B says:

        Aaah – an art critic too, eh?
        Your opinion of its artistic merit has no bearing on the issue, Marc. What you ‘think’ the marketplace should do is…well, lame. It will do what it will – as it is supposed to. The issue is the religious right’s constant and unswerving noise to suppress anything it doesn’t like.

        It’s nothing great – I think it’s funny, reminds me of Guy Peelaert’s first book of rockstars a bit.

        • Perhaps my take on the art is lame. It certainly is uneducated – as my wife, the artist, often demonstrates to me that I know nothing about art. But, the painting, to me, is simply un-pleasing to the eye and is delivering a stupid and jaded message. It is the artistic equivalent of the “Obama ain’t an American Citizen!” cry. Its just dumb — dumb like this was dumb.

          Of course, we could argue about artistic merit all day – and I don’t think either of us could be proven “correct.” You think it is “nothing great,” and I think it is somewhat less than that.

          But, that is the central issue – despite your dismissal of it. The work was put into the marketplace of ideas, and I rejected it. I would hope that others would too — simply because there is enough shitty art out there.

          But, to address your more important point: While it makes me gag to defend the Religious Right, I think I have to here.

          Yes, they do irrationally, foolishly, and comically shriek any time their made-up sensibilities are offended. But, don’t *they* have that right?

          Just as I may wish to say “this art sucks” simply because I think it sucks — don’t they have the right to be offended by it, to express their offense, and to voice their outrage? The artist should have had more balls — but perhaps he actually has some sensitivity toward those who believe in Christian mythology. Perhaps he was not prepared to embrace the controversy.

          Ultimately, in this case, I think the marketplace of ideas worked. It didn’t work for the reason that I wish it would — the rejection of art that isn’t fit to wipe my ass with — but it worked the way it should. There was no government intervention. There was simply a chorus of voices that expressed their collective opinion, the artist listened, end of story.

  9. Halcyon 0L says:

    I thought about this a while. Good question.

    Consider first that the piece isn’t really suppressed. It’s on the internet. The “suppression” gave the piece a lot more attention than it could have: the controversy ironically increased the piece’s exposure. Further, this little fiasco likely increased the value of the painting, since it’s now attached to an event instead of being just a rather worshipful piece with perhaps middling technical quality.

    Therefore, from a purely functionalist angle, the “suppression,” may have worked to the artist’s advantage in a number of ways. Did the suppression harm society? That I’m not sure of, but my inclination is to believe it was so small that we can overlook that for the benefits.

  10. Venkat says:

    What was the motivation behind the artist’s decision to cancel? Was he worried about backlash? Probably just a big publicity stunt to get additional viewership. :)

  11. amy says:

    This is not art. This is just another attempt by some sheeple bad boy wannabe enjoying the no-risk attention which he can glean by hurling a pictorial insult at safe, educated, civilized acting Christian Americans. If the artist had any real balls, he would have painted a picture of Muhammad fornicating with a 12 year old. That would at least have some true historical relevance, and might even carry a little cojones. Be a real man, Michael D’Antuono, take a shot at Islam and see how much e-mail you’ll get compared to this current “pressuring” and “suppression.” Let’s face it, you’re afraid the world would find out you don’t have a pair when they attempt to cut yours off!

    • Well, hold on. It is *art* — even if it is *bad art.*

      Also, if you think that christians are “Safe, educated, or civilized,” you must be looking at different people than me. Anyone who believes in a magic space zombie has no business calling anyone “sheeple.” Baaa.

      • amy says:

        Yes, marcorandazza, I consider most Christian denominations today to be very “safe, educated, and civilized.” If you disagree, why aren’t you living in Iraq, Iran, or Saudi under Sharia (Islamic law). Fact is, my cowardly friend, you are able to write your ignorant and sarcastic remarks and choose to believe or not in the deity of your choice in this or any Christian rooted nation on the globe today. Try that in most non-Christian oriented nations and you just might wind up becoming a believer on the way to your execution. Furthermore, you must be slightly delirious to believe that criticizing belief in God today is your own unique idea or for that matter a minority perspective. Look at most of the opinions on this very site–you run with the flock.

        • The typical redneck/christian response:

          ” If you disagree, why aren’t you living in Iraq, Iran, or Saudi under Sharia (Islamic law).”

          The old “If you don’t agree with me, then you should leave” bullshit.

          The fact that we have freedom of speech in this country has absolutely nothing to do with christianity — in fact, if we were to let the christian factions have their way, freedom of speech would be in grave danger.

          Face it, “Amy,” — a lot of people refuse to believe in your foolish superstitions. And you’re right, our numbers are growing. I don’t “pray,” the way you do, but I do “pray,” in the way that I strongly wish for things. I pray that the day will come when a majority of Americans have finally thrown off the yoke of superstition that christianity throws around their necks.

          See, I think *you* are the one who needs to be “saved.”

  12. Tatiana says:

    Why is that that the Christian “safe, educated, and civilized” often love to insult as though *that* is going to get the “uneducated” to listen?

  13. amy says:

    Dear Tatiana,

    Depends on your definition of insult–also your stereotype of “Christian.” I’m just one type, with an individual personality just like you. Christians aren’t supposed to be wimps. We believe what we believe–that Jesus is the son of God, and we’re not afraid to defend our beliefs within the context of the debate. We also believe that you and everyone who disagrees with us doesn’t deserve to be tortured or killed because they believe differently. The founding fathers of our Constitution were Christian and believed this also. That is why we are able to share these different perspectives in our society without fear of imprisonment, and why we (under our present Christian forged Constitution)are able to “argue” the particulars of these political and religious matters.

  14. Hannah says:

    I tihnk this painting is utterly ridiculous.

  15. Hannah says:

    we really dont care what you think Marcorandazza…you are going to rot in hell anyway!!

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