The Humdrum Heresies of “Heavenly Bodies”
In Heretics, G.K. Chesterton writes that the ancient heretic considered himself orthodox and thought the establishment heretical. Not so in modernity. Today’s heretic wants nothing to do with orthodoxy and “says, with a conscious laugh, ‘I suppose I am very heretical,’ and looks round for applause.” G.K.C. adds that a man “may turn over and explore a million objects, but he must not find that strange object, the universe; for if he does he will have a religion, and be lost. Everything matters – except everything.”
That could easily serve as my appraisal of the brouhaha currently roiling the New York art world – and the Church.
But a distinction must be made between Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, the largest exhibition ever mounted at the greatest art museum in the U.S., New York’s Metropolitan Museum (“the MET”), and the spectacle of the MET Gala, the annual benefit bash preceding each year’s new show at the MET’s Anna Wintour Costume Institute.
The Gala has become Manhattan’s equivalent of Fat Tuesday. The glitterati come out, dressed mostly in the spirit of the year’s Costume Institute theme, so it was no surprise to anybody, given this year’s conceit, that there was nearly as much sacrilege on display last week as there was cleavage. But that was the Gala.