80-Year-Old Woman ‘Restores’ 100-Year-Old Masterpiece
An old woman with no painting skills was allowed to restore an old painting. Oddly, it didn’t turn out very well.
BBC “Spanish fresco restoration botched by amateur“)
An elderly parishioner has stunned Spanish cultural officials with an alarming and unauthorised attempt to restore a prized Jesus Christ fresco.
Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) by Elias Garcia Martinez has held pride of place in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza for more than 100 years.
The woman took her brush to it after years of deterioration due to moisture.
Cultural officials said she had the best intentions and hoped it could be properly restored.
Cecilia Gimenez, who is in her 80s, was reportedly upset at the way the fresco had deteriorated and took it on herself to “restore” the image.
She claimed to have had the permission of the priest to carry out the job.
“(The) priest knew it! He did! How could you do something like that without permission? He knew it!”
BBC Europe correspondent Christian Fraser says the delicate brush strokes of Elias Garcia Martinez have been buried under a haphazard splattering of paint.
The once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic, he says.
Maybe that’s what she was going for? Oddly, they’d allowed this woman to touch up the tunic previously.
Not at all surprisingly, the Internet is having fun with this. HuffPo‘s Priscilla Frank (“‘Ironic Art Fans’ Petition To Save World’s Worst Resoration Of ‘Ecce Homo’“):
The past couple of days the Internet has been all a frenzy over the hilarious and equally horrifying mutilation impromptu restoration of 19th century fresco by a bold 80-year-old woman. Cecilia Gimenez approached the Christ painting “Ecce Homo” by Elias Garcia Martinez and thought it could use a little sprucing up. Unfortunately her restoration got a little out of hand, turning the divine figure into what looks like an furry alien Neanderthal. As one HuffPost commenter put it, “It’s Ewok Jesus!” Well, it looks like the world has fallen in love with this particular version of Christ, as devotees have launched a petition attempting to halt the restoration of the restoration.
The tale the restoration fail immediately went viral, resulting in hoards of tweets, comments and even this hilarious “Beast Jesus Restoration Society” Tumblr. While many media outlets referred to the renegade act as “the worst restoration in history,” many people have come out to support art’s most unlikely vigilante, Ms. Gimenez, which was the subject of a recent BBC interview.
Jonathan Jones over at The Guardian hailed Gimenez for bringing a virtually invisible work into the pop culture purview, resuscitating it into Internet relevance.Jones even suggests, cheekily of course, “the well-meaning restorer of this obscure Spanish painting should be turned loose on a couple of works that actually matter. Many true masterpieces are starved of the global attention this second-rate Ecce Homo has now got.”
It seems like many people agree. Over 5,000 people, described as “ironic art fans” by the Associated Foreign Press, have signed a Change.org petition attempting to save furry Jesus. The petition states that Gimenez’s mistake-cum-masterpiece “reveals a subtle criticism of the Church’s creationist theories while questioning a resurgence of new idols.” While we doubt there was an avant-garde motive behind Gimenez’s aesthetic choices, we suppose it is possible, especially given her history as an “accomplished” artist.
There’s also probably a good “No homo” joke in there somewhere.