NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - The New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art is being sued for displaying paintings featuring Christ as blond-haired and white.
Justin Renel Joseph, 33, of Manhattan filed a suit with the Manhattan Supreme Court citing four paintings showcased by the museum as being "racist" for depicting Christ as an "Aryan" male.
Joseph, who is representing himself in court, called the famous paintings an "offensive aesthetic whitewashing" of the true appearance of Christ who had "black hair like wool and skin of bronze color."
According to court papers:
The implication that someone who possesses physical features like the plaintiff could not be the important historical and public figure of Jesus Christ ... caused the plaintiff to feel, among other things, rejected and unaccepted by society.
The paintings in question, which allegedly caused Joseph much "personal stress," are "The Holy Family with Angels" by Sebastiano Ricci (ca. 1700), "The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes" by Tintoretto (ca. 1545–50), "The Crucifixion" by Francesco Granacci (ca. 1510), and "The Resurrection" by Perugino.
The Met defended the artwork, stating, "When they were painted, it was typical for artists to depict subjects with the same identity as the local audience. This phenomenon occurs in many other cultures as well."
But the plaintiff sees the Met's acceptance of the artwork as "an extreme case of discrimination," claiming that the artists "completely changed [Christ's] race to make Him more aesthetically pleasing for white people."
Joseph noted that he plans to sue the museum on the basis that public venues "can't discriminate" owing to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
According to a former professor at Manchester University, the depictions of Christ as white with long, blond hair are in fact historically inaccurate.
Richard Neave, a British anatomical artist, used computerized tomography to recreate what he believes to be a more anatomically correct depiction of Christ. Using the skulls of three Semites found around the area of Galilee, Neave created a 3-D image of a thickly bearded Christ with short black hair, differing from common depictions of Jesus.
Earlier this year, Italian police employed technology usually reserved for aging the faces of wanted criminals to construct an image of Jesus as a young boy. The picture was produced using the negative images from the Shroud of Turin.
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