It’s been a really long week for Cecilia Giménez. Never heard of her before? Join the club. But though she’s not a household name, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen her artwork, which has been flooding facebook and tumblr feeds since she became an international art sensation early last week.
You see, Giménez is part of the community at the Santuario de la Misericordia, a Catholic Church in Borja, Spain. Inside the Santuario is a 19th century fresco by Spanish painter Elías García Martínez that depicts Christ crowned with thorns before his crucifixion. This theme is known as “Ecce Homo” in the history of Christian art, referring to Pontius Pilate’s exclamation to the assembled crowds (“Behold the man!”) before he handed Jesus over to death. But after decades of wear and tear, Martínez’s fresco began to deteriorate as the paint gradually chipped away. Until Giménez took matters into her own hands, that is:
Yes, this is perhaps the worst art restoration of all time. And yes, there are interesting questions about why this happened in the first place (Giménez claims the local clergy knew what she was doing; they claim she went rogue).
But more importantly (at least for our purposes), she gave rise to the new “Ecce Homo” meme. Her particular and peculiar face of Christ–made in the image and likeness of Mr. Potato Head–is now all over the internet (and all over famous works of art, too). We at TJP loves us a good meme (check out our latest here), and some of these are pretty great.
The story is unfortunate, of course, and there is talk of trying to strip away Giménez’s masterpiece. But then again, the meme may have made the ‘restoration’ more famous than the original.