The photo you see above depicts Renato Bertelli’s Profilo Continuo, a then extremely celebrated and, still today, rather admired work of modern art.
The work represents, as the name suggests, the profile of the Duce over a 360 degree rotation.
Whilst the profile of the Duce is very marked and, so to speak, fitting for the role, what counts here is the impression of strenght, daring innovation, and even speed suggested by the work.
Bertelli’s inspiration didn’t go unnoticed. Mussolini was so pleased with it that he allowed its use as official portrait, and the work gave birth to reproduction that lovers of art (and, presumably, of Fascism) could install in their own reception rooms.
You see here, if I may say so, modern art at its best. You see what the work is aimed at, you visually and instinctively “get” the message of the work: the representation of Mussolini’s traits as the embodiment of a new era, a brave and daring, but breathtakingly modern one. Whilst very modern and with the Duce almost not recognisable, it still defines him in a brilliant way.
Fast forward to 2011. A new statue is revealed in Piazza dei Cinquecento, in Rome. The statue represents the late Pope, John Paul II.
It is, undoubtedly, a piece of modern art. There is a huge cavity, strongly resembling a device for the relief of gentlemen’s bladder urges and therefore fittingly called, by the vox populi, orinale. Apparently, said urinal-shaped cavity represents the desire of the late Pope to be inclusive, and accept everyone. It still looks like a urinal, though.
Over this strange device, a head is placed. A heavy, square, hard one. A head which, coincidentally, looks pretty much like the Duce’s head – it is astonishing how certain things remain in the collective imagination of a country – but is supposed to be the head of the late Pope instead. One looks at the “work” and thinks that whatever the artist has been smoking, it should be taken away from him at once.
Note that Bertelli didn’t need any modification to his work; and that his work actually wouldn’t have tolerated any, so beautiful it is in its purity of lines and clarity of purpose. This doesn’t seem to be the case of the artist of (degenerate) art who created the urinal, because said (degenerate) artist has now promised to modify the work so that people, at least, stop thinking that it is a monument to Mussolini with the wrong name.
One wonders what will happen, then, to this “masterwork with second thoughts”. Will the head be so modified as to make it more similar to the one of the late Pope? Will we get a profilo continuo of the said pope above the orinale? Will the Pope miraculously get things like… arms? Will the urinal be actually replaced with something at least vaguely resembling a body?
In the same weeks of the inauguration of the orinale, a statue to Ronald Reagan was unveiled in front of the American Embassy in London. It looks like – you wouldn’t believe it – Ronald Reagan. One wonders how the Americans could be so unbearably unimaginative as to commission something resembling the person it is meant to remember!
I do not know you, but I am fed up with idiots squandering public money and wanting to be cretinous at all costs, purely out of fear of not being considered intellectual and unconventional enough. Cretins is what they’ll be considered, both those who made the “work” and those who commissioned and approved it.
I am waiting to see what “modifications” are going to be unveiled. I’m afraid we haven’t stopped laughing yet.