By now you’ve heard and seen the controversial and unauthorized restoration of a 19th century fresco in a small church in Borja, Zaragoza, Spain entitled Ecce Homo by the Spanish artist Elías García Martínez. It was done by a well-meaning but untrained local octagenarian Cecilia Giménez. See the before and after photos below:
The restored version has been described hilariously in the media with my favorite description coming courtesy of Time Magazine online (along with the best article title) Worst. Restoration. Ever.:
Once an austere depiction of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, the Spanish church painting now resembles a hairy monkey wearing a baggy velvet suit and sporting what seems to be a rolled-up carpet for an arm.
El Pais also has a wonderful article on it, albeit in Spanish. However, click on the link to use a webtool that will allow you to run a stick over the fresco to gradually unveil the destruction to the nearly two-hundred year-old fresco. The truly sad part is that a grant had just been given to finance professional restorers to return the painting, which wasn’t considered a masterpiece but definitely a fine work, to its original state. I hope it can still be salvaged but for now, I’ve started referring to this particular version of Christ as the Monkey-Eskimo Jesus.
Naturally, this has become an internet meme. Even other art historians I know, after getting over our initial shock and horror, laughed at this. It’s absurdist at its finest and quite honestly, you laugh to keep from crying. Here are some of the best of the new internet memes since, as I revealed previously, I do love a good meme: