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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Crowd-sourcing Pope John Paul II's statue in Rome

2011 statue

2011.  "It looks like a phone booth from this
angle," says Bill.  "Maybe a direct line
to the Pope."
This is the John Paul II statue in front of Stazione Termini (the main Rome train station) as it was unveiled, and as we saw it, in 2011.  Looked okay to us.  Yes, modernized; yes, stylized.  But decent modern sculpture, imho.  We certainly wouldn't consider it for our Worst Public Sculpture series.

But the critics - likened to ubiquitous soccer team critics in a NYT article - came out in force.  The NYT reported some called the statue a urinal.   Others a "bomb"and a "sin." (Imagine if it had gotten attacked on Facebook!)

close up of the Pope's head on the statue:
before the remake
Most of the criticisms focused on the head: not smiling enough, no neck, some said. Not representative of the beloved Pope, who is to be canonized Sunday, April 27 (2014).  We were in the crowds in 2005 in the days after he died - those crowds that shouted "Santo Subito!" "Saint Now!"

Crowds in Circo Massimo for John Paul II funeral services in 2005

2012, modifications in progress
We scootered by the statue in 2012 - now there's a real urinal, or port-a-potty, nearby, and the statue was so covered we couldn't even peak inside.  The powers that be, or the sculptor, weren't going to let the crowd come in on this one.
2013 - not much different, in our opinion


smiley face - 2013

He is viewed now as smiling more, and with a bit more of a neck. His arm is straightened, they say, the greenish hue evened out, and the statue has its own pedestal.

The sculptor, Oliviero Rainaldi, said he has simply "corrected some mistakes." That the statue now more closely resembles his original vision.  Yeah, that and a bunch of soccer critics formed into a committee by the then right-wing mayor no doubt made him see these "mistakes" more clearly.

The critics seem appeased, but we don't see much difference.  (Bill: much improved cape, gently parting rather than squared off.)  And, the idea of crowd-sourcing a sculpture somehow rubs us the wrong way.

In any event, you can stop by and see for yourself, when your train comes in.

PS - for more on preserving Popes, saints and their bodies, see Theresa Potenza's marvelous piece in the New York Post (and titled, per that paper's style), "Vatican's secret, and deadly, project to mummify saints."



Joan said...

I hope you don't mind my sending you the address of a unhappy story I found on "Italian Reflections Daily." If you read it, I'm wondering about your reaction.
Joan Schmelzle

Marco said...

"Santo Pronto!"

No, in Italian that would be "santo subito!". 'Pronto' is Spanish, I'm afraid...

Marco said...

@ Joan: as a local, I can tell you that the situation here in Rome is not as bad as the article makes it out to be.

Joan said...

Thanks Marco. I was hoping Rome hadn't changed that much since I was there in 2012. I hope to be back in 2015.

Dianne Bennett and William Graebner said...

Marco - thanks so much (as usual); I made the correction. Maybe I was standing amidst Spaniards. Ho Ho... Dianne