Chris Ofili is British of Nigerian origin. His Christian education mad him question the dogma of the Virgin Mary to which he observes the erotic features in some old pictorial figures. He will be the hip-hop artist of the African woman in a schematic style which is also a continuation of Basquiat by his racial activism.
On June 30 in London, Christie's sells The Holy Virgin Mary, lot 37 estimated £ 1.4M.
This artwork 243 x 182 cm was realized in 1996 with a mixed technique used to obtain a brilliant effect: acrylic, oil, resin, phosphorescent paper, pins and elephant dung.
The black woman is seated, in front view. Her long and slightly transparent dress releases a breast made in elephant dung. The psychedelic orange background is gorgeous, with a slightly lighter halo composed of radiating lines around the head.
This recuperation of the Marian theme with a black character outraged the Christians of New York in 1999, up to a lawsuit brought against the Brooklyn museum by the mayor of New York City on a charge of sacrilege scarce in a country so proud of its First Amendment .
This reaction appears to be quite excessive as The Holy Virgin Mary belongs to the theme of the glorification of the African woman and of her fertility. Orgena (A Negro), realized in 1998 in a similar technique without religious attributes, was sold for £ 1.9 million including premium by Christie's on 30 June 2010.