The Creation of Adam: Censorship or Homophobia

Here in St. Louis (or more properly over in St. Charles) there is a growing flap over this sculpture
Which is clearly modelled after Michelangelo’s famous fresco:
creation of adam
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.


Apparently the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles commissioned the sculpture and were unable to deal with the results:

Hitchcock [the artist – afarensis] said he called the center to ask how things were going with “The Creation of Adam” and was told by a worker “they were having a wedding at the center and ‘I had to cover up his private parts.’ I told her, ‘You mean his penis? It really is all right to say that word. I say it all the time.’ I guess it really is a provincial community up there.”

There seem to be a couple of issues:

Rosen said the center has no official policy on censorship but she said she did tell Hitchcock she would prefer a sculpture that did not have frontal nudity because the center is used for weddings and other family events.

Should have done more research becauseother work on the artists website clearly shows that this was probably going to be an issue.

For example, he said, “I believe that commingled with the censorship of my work is a considerable dose of homophobia. The fact that a large breasted female bronze remains just outside the Foundry’s doors [I’ve not been able to find a pic of this statue – afarensis] is a glaring inconsistency. Why aren’t her breasts and genitals draped in fabric? Perhaps I wasn’t targeted because of the nudity in my work but because I was the only openly gay artist participating in the ArtWalk.”

I don’t think this is an example of homophobia. St. Charles is a pretty conservative (republican) area and I think they tried to cover Adams’ penis for the same reason Davids’ penis is frequently covered (the Simpsons had a great episode on that)…
Anyway, consider this an open thread…
Added Later: The Creation of Adam has found a home at the St. Louis Centre till May 6th:

ArtDimensions will display “The Creation of Adam” from Wednesday through May 6. Some of Hitchcock’s other works also will be displayed, and autographed copies of his book, “Dark Impressions,” will be available for purchase.

Update 05/11/2013: An interactive video can be found here

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12 Responses

  1. This a grand example of a minority member taking every offence happening to him (censoring his art was about the worst thing they could to an artist) as an example of a *phobia or anti*ism of some kind.

  2. Could the censorship be the result of penis envy? As in the artist has one, and the RWC’s do not? I mean it could be so embarrissing! “Daddy, how come the statue’s wee-wee is so much bigger than yours?”
    ps: The least you could do is show “a” “large-breasted female bronze”. I know you looked for the exact one – it must be the researcher in you – but you could use a disclaimer to say, “similar to the one pictured here”. As Tara can tell you, it’s a sure-fired way to increase site traffic!

  3. J-Dog you mean one something like this? Or am I being too anthropological?

  4. “J-Dog you mean one something like this? ”
    That was a tease.

  5. I agree, there seems to have been massive miscommunication between the artist and the centre. They should have known who they were getting and spelled out their requirements more clearly.
    On the other hand, if there really is a nude female bronze as he says, then it’s definitely a double standard. But that doesn’t make it homophobia, and it’s irresponsible of Hitchcock to make that kind of charge.
    On the gripping hand, who knows? He probably has had to deal with homophobia in his career, and I imagine a lot of it had to do with complaints about dangly bits on his sculptures.

  6. Some textbooks used by conservative schools clumsily cover up Michelangelo’s “David” for similar reasons. It’s a Midwestern American hangup. The grocery store here in Louisville have “shields” that obscure Cosmo’s cover models for similar reasons.
    The sculpture is extremely well done, judging from the photo. And Adam’s anatomy is tastefully exposed. It’s not like he has a hard-on while he stares at the female bronze torso. So I can’t see why anyone (other than a Midwestern bluenose) would be offended by it.

  7. You need to come to St. Louis University and take a gander at the “Fluzzie in the Jacuzzie” sculpture. You also have to see the sculpture in from of our gym. We are Catholic and don’t get easily offended, not by nudity. Besides, is better to offend than to be offended. Hey, we’re Catholic, but also Jesuit.

  8. I went to the artist’s site and immediately saw a couple of words that might indicate the possibility of nidity – ‘lifecast’ and ‘erotic’. I don’t really think this is homophobia so much as being oblivious to what the artist in question actually does. And then if the center didn’t want to have nudity then they should have put it in their contract for the piece.
    I also seem to remember that there are a couple of stories about Michaelangelo’s fresco having some painted over areas after the fact. I think it was prurience rather than homophobia for both Hitchcock and Michaelangelo’s art pieces.
    Roger
    Victoria

  9. Some of the news stations did stories about the SLU statues – shocked lots of folks…

  10. Michealangelo: “No, it’s supposed to look like this!” *pulls out the plans for the Sistine Chapel*
    Dot: “Oh! More Naked people!”
    Yakko: “I wouldn’t go flashing that around if I were you, Mike. This is a church.” *wads it up*

    J-Dog you mean one something like this?

    My girlfriend just bought a hat like the one that woman is wearing. Hers is red, though, and she doesn’t wear it over her face.

  11. I also seem to remember that there are a couple of stories about Michaelangelo’s fresco having some painted over areas after the fact. I think it was prurience rather than homophobia for both Hitchcock and Michaelangelo’s art pieces.

    In Michelangelo’s case it’s also rummored to be because some of the nude people were people within the church that he didn’t like.

  12. Thanks to everyone who commented. I’m Philip Hitchcock, the artist who created the sculpture in question. I’d like to clear up a couple of points. The Saint Charles Foundry Art Centre did not commission “The Creation of Adam.” I made the piece in 2004 and they (actually executive director Joyce Rosen) agreed to hang it for a month as a featured exhibit for the first annual Saint Charles Spring ArtWalk. Here’s where the trouble starts.
    Although Rosen was provided with my web site, a copy of my book “Dark Impressions,” and a DVD showing electronic press (including FOX coverage of my show NeoClassic- where Creation was first exhibited in January of this year) she did not do her homework on me. Instead, she based her decision to hang my work on an the invitation to “NeoClassic,” which featured a cropped version of Creation, showing half the God figure and only Adam’s extended hand.
    Fair enough.
    But my contention in the whole ordeal was that, once the piece was hung, she should have told me that it wasn’t going to fly in Mayberry and to take it down. Instead it was allowed to hang. In fact, it would still be there if I hadn’t pulled it. It’s what began to happen afterwards that pissed me off.
    On at least three occasions, the genitals were draped with tablecloths and fig leafs. (Literally a piece of dried foliage!) Eventually a 12 foot moveable wall was place six feet in front of the sculpture and that, my friends, was that. I shortly, thereafter removed the piece.
    The good news is ArtDimensions CentreGallery in the Saint Louis Center on Washington and 7th is hosting “Creation” and 8 other of my works for ten days. Please attend a champagne reception on May 5, 2006 from 7:00 to 11:00 pm, and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.
    Philip Hitchcock
    http://www.philiphitchcock.com

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