Weekend Open Thread: Botched ‘Monkey Christ’ Fresco Restoration Has Happier Ending

Monkey Christ

Journalists call this the “Monkey Christ.”  I’m not the one who came up with the name, so send your outraged cards and letters to the art journalism community. I’m just here to tell you a heart-warming story.

NOTE: We don’t seem to have else anything cued up for today, and I’ll have that Anaheim story up tomorrow, so — let’s start the Weekend early!

You may recall the botched unbidden-geriatric-volunteer art-restoration project for a church in Zaragoza, in Spain’s Catalan region, that the hit the news about a year ago when a fresco depicting Jesus was restored into something considerably less likely to serve as a religious figure. If not, here’s a before and after:

"Monkey Christ" before and after

Youch!  You can see on the left which octogenerian artist Cecilia Gimenez may have been moved to start to retouch the fresco — and you can see on the right why she was ultimately moved to stop.  She had transformed the image of Jesus into something resembling an infant rhesus monkey.  You doubt me?  Behold:

Rhesus Macaque Monkey from Hong Kong

Not religious figure level quality, admittedly — but still awfully cute.

So, lots of us observers laughed at Señora Gimenez’s efforts (though she has been a real artist in the past), pitied her (partly for her shame and perhaps partly for her age and partly because we thought that she must be a fool and partly for her bringing down the displeasure of the almighty … art preservationists), cringed at the thought of her having to bear her shame, made some rude and funny visual use of the image (probably not the same people who pitied her), and so on.

Monkey Christ ArtMonkey Lisa















And about a year later, guess what?

A sort of a postmodern miracle happened — and we have a Happy Ending.  Watch the video:

Yes, people are flocking to the church to see the “Monkey Christ,” for which admission is now charged with proceed going to worthy charitable causes, and the Monkey Christ image will now be displayed on souvenir dinner plates and such.  From the Slate article linked above:

[T]he botched-restoration-turned-viral-sensation has drawn more than 40,000 visitors to the church that houses it, raising more than $60,000 for a local charity in the process. Gimenez, meanwhile, has agreed to share profits from merchandise featuring the image, and is even set to have her other artwork exhibited. “I’m happy because my neighbors are being nice to me,” she told the BBC.

The power of God may (I’m trying to navigate between the theists and atheists among the readership here) be incomparably great, but the power of Kitsch is itself pretty much unstoppable.  Nevertheless, the Orange Juice blog asks that you please not deface artwork near you and expect it to turn out as well.

This is the Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about that or anything else you’d like, within broad bounds of discretion and decorum.  The Dearthwatch will, after taking its own sweet time, follow.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)