Crucifixion in the arts

Crucifixion in the arts

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Crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

 and crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

es have appeared in the arts and popular culture
from before the era of the pagan Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

. The crucifixion of Jesus
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

 has been depicted in religious art since the 4th century CE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

. In more modern times, crucifixion has appeared in film and television as well as in fine art, and depictions of other historical crucifixions have appeared as well as the crucifixion of Christ. Modern art and culture have also seen the rise of images of crucifixion being used to make statements unconnected with Christian iconography, or even just used for shock value.

Through history



The earliest known artistic representations of crucifixion predate the Christian era, including Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 representations of mythical crucifixions inspired by the use of the punishment by the Persians.

The Alexamenos graffito
Alexamenos graffito
The Alexamenos graffito is an inscription carved in plaster on a wall near the Palatine Hill in Rome, now in the Palatine Antiquarium Museum...

, currently in the museum in the Palatine Hill
Palatine Hill
The Palatine Hill is the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome and is one of the most ancient parts of the city...

, Rome, is a Roman graffito
Graffiti
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property....

 from the 2nd century CE which depicts a man worshiping a crucified donkey. This graffito, though apparently meant as an insult, is the earliest known pictorial representation of the crucifixion of Jesus. The text scrawled around the image reads Αλεξαμενος ϲεβετε θεον, which translates to "Alexamenos worshipping God" or some variant of this sentence.

In the first three centuries of Early Christian art, the crucifixion was rarely depicted, although the Alexamenos graffito would have little point if this was never the case. Some engraved gems thought to be 2nd or 3rd century have survived, but the subject does not appear in the art of the Roman Catacombs, and it is thought that at this period the image was restricted to heretical
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 groups of Christians. Constantine I
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 forbade crucifixion as a method of execution, and early church leaders regarded crucifixion with horror, and thus, as an unfit subject for artistic portrayal. The purported discovery of the True Cross
True Cross
The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

 by Constantine's mother, Helena, and the development of Golgotha as a site for pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

, together with the dispersal of fragments of the relic
Relic
In religion, a relic is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a tangible memorial...

 across the Christian world, led to a change of attitude. It was probably in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 that the image developed, and many of the earliest depictions are on the Monza ampullae
Monza ampullae
The Monza ampullae form the largest collection of a specific type of Early Medieval pilgrimage ampullae or small flasks designed to hold holy oil from pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land related to the life of Jesus, that were made in Palestine, probably in the fifth to early seventh centuries...

, small metal flasks for holy oil, that were pilgrim's souvenirs from the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

, as well as 5th century ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 relief
Relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

s from Italy. Prior to the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, early Christians preferred to focus on the "triumphant" Christ, rather than a dying one, because the concept of the risen Christ
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

 was so central to their faith. The plain cross became depicted, often as a "glorified" symbol, as the crux gemmata
Crux Gemmata
A crux gemmata is a form of cross typical of Early Christian and Early Medieval art, where the cross, or at least its front side, is principally decorated with jewels...

, covered with jewels, as many real early medieval processional cross
Processional Cross
A processional cross is a crucifix or cross which is carried in Christian processions. Such crosses have a long history: the Gregorian mission of Saint Augustine of Canterbury to England carried one before them "like a standard", according to Bede. Other sources suggest that all churches were...

es in goldsmith work were.


Starting in the 4th century CE, crucifixion imagery began to appear in art. Early depictions showed a living Christ, and tended to minimize the appearance of suffering, so as to draw attention to the positive message of resurrection and faith, rather than to the physical realities of execution. In the Middle Ages, Jesus was more often seen as a human being, capable of suffering. The first depictions of crucifixion displaying suffering are believed to have arisen in Byzantine art
Byzantine art
Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453....

, where the "S"-shaped slumped body type was developed. Early Western examples include the Gero Cross and the reverse of the Cross of Lothair
Cross of Lothair
The Cross of Lothair or Lothair Cross is a crux gemmata processional cross dating from about 1000 AD, though its base dates from the 14th century. It was made in Germany, probably at Cologne...

, both from the end of the 10th century. The first of these is the earliest near life-size sculpted cross to survive. Such figures, especially as rood
Rood
A rood is a cross or crucifix, especially a large one in a church; a large sculpture or sometimes painting of the crucifixion of Jesus.Rood is an archaic word for pole, from Old English rōd "pole", specifically "cross", from Proto-Germanic *rodo, cognate to Old Saxon rōda, Old High German ruoda...

s, large painted or sculpted crucifixes hung high in front of the chancel
Chancel
In church architecture, the chancel is the space around the altar in the sanctuary at the liturgical east end of a traditional Christian church building...

 of churches, became very important in Western art, providing a sharp contrast with Eastern Orthodox traditions, where the subject was never depicted in monumental sculpture
Monumental sculpture
The term monumental sculpture is often used in art history and criticism, but not always consistently. It combines two concepts, one of function, and one of size, and may include an element of a third more subjective concept. It is often used for all sculptures that are large...

, and increasingly rarely even in small Byzantine ivories. By contrast, an altar cross, almost always a crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

, became compulsory in Western churches in the Middle Ages, and small wall-mounted crucifixes were increasingly popular in Catholic homes from the Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

, if not before. Related scenes such as the Deposition of Christ, Entombment of Christ
Entombment of Christ
The Entombment redirects here. For other uses, The Entombment The Entombment of Christ, that is to say the burial of Jesus Christ, occurred after his death by crucifixion, when, according to the gospel accounts, he was placed in a new tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea.-Biblical account:All four...

and Nailing of Christ to the Cross developed. In the Late Middle Ages, increasingly intense and realistic representations of suffering were shown, reflecting the development of highly emotional andachtsbilder
Andachtsbilder
Andachtsbilder is a German term often used in English in art history for Christian devotional images designed as aids for prayer or contemplation...

 subjects and devotional trends such as German mysticism
German mysticism
German mysticism, sometimes called Dominican mysticism or Rhineland mysticism, was a late medieval Christian mystical movement, that was especially prominent within the Dominican order and in Germany. Although its origins can be traced back to Hildegard of Bingen, it is mostly represented by...

; some, like the Throne of Mercy, Man of Sorrows
Man of Sorrows
Among the passages in the Hebrew Bible that have been identified by Christians as prefigurations of the Messiah, the Man of Sorrows of Isaiah 53 is paramount - the various theological traditions are discussed at that article...

 and Pietà
Pietà
The Pietà is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ...

, related to the Crucifixion. After typically more tranquil depictions during the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

—though not its Northern equivalent
Northern Renaissance
The Northern Renaissance is the term used to describe the Renaissance in northern Europe, or more broadly in Europe outside Italy. Before 1450 Italian Renaissance humanism had little influence outside Italy. From the late 15th century the ideas spread around Europe...

, which produced works such as the Isenheim Altarpiece
Isenheim Altarpiece
The Isenheim Altarpiece is an altarpiece painted by the German artist Matthias Grünewald in 1506-1515. It is on display at the Unterlinden Museum at Colmar, Alsace, now in France....

—there was a return to intense emotionalism in the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

, in works such as Rubens
Rubens
Rubens is often used to refer to Peter Paul Rubens , the Flemish artist.Rubens may also refer to:- People :Family name* Paul Rubens Rubens is often used to refer to Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), the Flemish artist.Rubens may also refer to:- People :Family name* Paul Rubens (composer) Rubens is...

's Elevation of the Cross
The Elevation of the Cross (Rubens)
The Elevation of the Cross is a triptych painting by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, completed in 1610-1611....

.


As a broad generalization, the earliest depictions, before about 900, tended to show all three crosses (those of Jesus, the Good Thief and the Bad Thief), but later medieval depictions mostly showed just Jesus and his cross. From the Renaissance either type might be shown. The number of other figures shown depended on the size and medium of the work, but there was a similar trend for early depictions to show a number of figures, giving way in the High Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 to just the Virgin Mary and Saint John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist
Saint John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John...

, shown standing on either side of the cross, as in the Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater (art)
Stabat Mater is a topic in Christian Marian art in which the Virgin Mary is depicted under the cross during the Crucifixion of Christ...

 depictions, or even painted in panels at the end of each arm of a rood cross. The soldiers were less likely to be shown, but others of the party with Mary and John might be. In some works a donor portrait
Donor portrait
A donor portrait or votive portrait is a portrait in a larger painting or other work showing the person who commissioned and paid for the image, or a member of his, or her, family...

 was included in the scene. In the late 14th century more crowded scenes saw a revival in larger works, often including an officer on a horse and a large crowd of soldiers and spectators. Angels were often shown in the sky, and the Hand of God
Hand of God (art)
The Hand of God, or Manus Dei in Latin, also known as Dextera domini/dei, the "right hand of the Lord/God", is a motif in Jewish and Christian art, especially of the Late Antique and Early Medieval periods, when depiction of Jehovah or God the Father as a full human figure was considered...

 in some early depictions gave way to a small figure of God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

 in the heavens in some later ones, those these were always in the minority.

The scene always formed part of a cycle of images of the Life of Christ
Life of Christ
The Life of Christ as a narrative cycle in Christian art comprises a number of different subjects, which were often grouped in series or cycles of works in a variety of media, narrating the life of Jesus on earth, as distinguished from the many other subjects in art showing the eternal life of...

after about 600 (though it is noticeably absent before) and usually in one of the Life of the Virgin
Life of the Virgin
The Life of the Virgin, showing narrative scenes from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a common subject for pictorial cycles in Christian art, often complementing, or forming part of, a cycle on the Life of Christ. In both cases the number of scenes shown varies greatly with the space...

; the presence of Saint John made it a common subject for altarpieces in churches dedicated to him. From the late Middle Ages various new contexts for images were devised, from such large scale monuments as the "calvaire"
Calvary (sculpture)
A calvary is a type of monumental public crucifix, sometimes encased in an open shrine, most commonly found across northern France from Brittany east and through Belgium and equally familiar as wayside structures provided with minimal sheltering roofs in Italy and Spain...

 of Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 and the Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy to the thousands of small wayside shrines still found in many parts of Catholic Europe, and the Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St...

 in the majority of Catholic churches.

Sculptured depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus also exist throughout the world.

Modern art


Crucifixion has appeared repeatedly as a theme in many forms of modern art
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

.

The surrealist
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí
Salvador Domènec Felip Jacint Dalí i Domènech, Marquis de Púbol , commonly known as Salvador Dalí , was a prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born in Figueres,Spain....

 painted Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)
Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)
Crucifixion was painted in 1954 by Salvador Dalí, and depicts the crucified Jesus upon the net of a hypercube. Gala , is the figure in the bottom left, who stands looking up to the crucified Jesus. The scene is depicted in front of the bay of Port Lligat.The painting is in the Metropolitan Museum...

, representing the cross as a hypercube
Hypercube
In geometry, a hypercube is an n-dimensional analogue of a square and a cube . It is a closed, compact, convex figure whose 1-skeleton consists of groups of opposite parallel line segments aligned in each of the space's dimensions, perpendicular to each other and of the same length.An...

. The sculpture Construction (Crucifixion): Homage to Mondrian, by Barbara Hepworth
Barbara Hepworth
Dame Barbara Hepworth DBE was an English sculptor. Her work exemplifies Modernism, and with such contemporaries as Ivon Hitchens, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo she helped to develop modern art in Britain.-Life and work:Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth was born on 10 January 1903 in Wakefield,...

, stands on the grounds of Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral at Winchester in Hampshire is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave and overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe...

. Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe
Robert Mapplethorpe
Robert Mapplethorpe was an American photographer, known for his large-scale, highly stylized black and white portraits, photos of flowers and nude men...

's 1975 self-portrait shows the artist, nude and smiling, posed as if crucified. The 1983 painting Crucifixion
Crucifixion (1983)
The Crucifixion is the subject of a painting by Nabil Kanso painted in 1983. It is oil on canvas measuring 2.75 X 2.25 meters...

, by Nabil Kanso
Nabil Kanso
Nabil Kanso is a Lebanese-American painter born in Beirut, Lebanon.His works deal with contemporary, historical and literary themes, and are marked by figurative imagery executed with spontaneous and vigorous handling of the paint and often done on large-scale formats...

, employs a perspective that places the viewer behind Christ's cross. In 1987 photographer Andres Serrano
Andres Serrano
Andres Serrano is an American photographer and artist who has become notorious through his photos of corpses and his use of feces and bodily fluids in his work, notably his controversial work "Piss Christ", a red-tinged photograph of a crucifix submerged in a glass container of what was purported...

 created Piss Christ
Piss Christ
Piss Christ is a 1987 photograph by artist and photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine...

, a controversial photograph that shows a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine, in which Serrano intended to depict sympathetically the abuse of Jesus by his executioners.

Other artists have used crucifixion imagery as a form of protest. In 1974, Chris Burden
Chris Burden
Christopher "Chris" Burden is an American artist working in performance, sculpture, and installation art.-Education:Burden studied for his B.A...

 had himself crucified to a Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen is a German automobile manufacturer and is the original and biggest-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, which now also owns the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Škoda marques and the truck manufacturer Scania.Volkswagen means "people's car" in German, where it is...

. Robert Cenedella painted a crucified Santa Claus as a protest against Christmas commercialization, displayed in the window of New York's Art Students League in December 1997. In August 2000, performance artist Sebastian Horsley
Sebastian Horsley
Sebastian Horsley was a London artist best known for having undergone a voluntary crucifixion. Horsley's writing often revolved around his dysfunctional family, his drug addictions, sex, and his reliance on prostitutes.-Background:Horsley was born in Holderness in the East Riding of Yorkshire...

 had himself crucified without the use of any analgesic
Analgesic
An analgesic is any member of the group of drugs used to relieve pain . The word analgesic derives from Greek an- and algos ....

s.

Popular art


Crucifixion in popular art, as with modern art, is sometimes used for its shock value. For example, a World War I Liberty bond
Liberty bond
A Liberty Bond was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the allied cause in World War I. Subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time. The Act of Congress which...

 poster by Fernando Amorsolo
Fernando Amorsolo
Fernando Amorsolo y Cueto is one of the most important artists in the history of painting in the Philippines. Amorsolo was a portraitist and painter of rural Philippine landscapes. He is popularly known for his craftsmanship and mastery in the use of light...

 depicts a German soldier nailing an American soldier, his arms outspread, to the trunk of a tree. Crucifixion imagery is also used to make points in political cartoons
Editorial cartoon
An editorial cartoon, also known as a political cartoon, is an illustration containing a commentary that usually relates to current events or personalities....

.

Graphic novels



Crucifixion figures prominently in graphic novels from many cultures throughout the world. In Western comic books, characters in cruciform
Cruciform
Cruciform means having the shape of a cross or Christian cross.- Cruciform architectural plan :This is a common description of Christian churches. In Early Christian, Byzantine and other Eastern Orthodox forms of church architecture this is more likely to mean a tetraconch plan, a Greek cross,...

 are seen more often than actual crucifixions. For example, Animal Man
Animal Man
Animal Man is a fictional character, a superhero in the . As a result of being in proximity to an exploding extraterrestrial spaceship, Buddy Baker acquires the ability to temporarily “borrow” the abilities of animals...

's fifth issue earned an Eisner Award
Eisner Award
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, commonly shortened to the Eisner Awards, and sometimes referred to as the Oscar Awards of the Comics Industry, are prizes given for creative achievement in American comic books. The Eisner Awards were first conferred in 1988, created in response to the...

 nomination in 1989 for its "The Coyote Gospel", the story of Crafty, a thinly-disguised Wile E. Coyote (of the Road Runner cartoons) and the depiction at the culmination of the issue of his dead body in cruciform. Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

, often seen as a Christ figure, has also been crucified, as well as being shown in cruciform.

Crucifixions and crucifixes have appeared repeatedly in Japanese manga
Manga
Manga is the Japanese word for "comics" and consists of comics and print cartoons . In the West, the term "manga" has been appropriated to refer specifically to comics created in Japan, or by Japanese authors, in the Japanese language and conforming to the style developed in Japan in the late 19th...

 and anime
Anime
is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

. In manga iconography
Manga iconography
Japanese manga has developed its own visual language or iconography for expressing emotion and other internal character states. This drawing style has also migrated into anime, as many stories are adapted into television shows and films...

, crucifixes serve two purposes: as death symbols, and as symbols of justice. Scholars such as Michael Broderick and Susan J. Napier
Susan J. Napier
Dr. Susan Jolliffe Napier is Professor of the Japanese Program at Tufts University. She was formerly Professor of the Japanese Literature and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin, and a visiting professor at the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University...

 argue that Japanese readers associate crucifixion imagery with apocalyptic themes, and trace this symbolism to Japanese secular views of the bombings of Hiroshima
Hiroshima
is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It became best known as the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on it at 8:15 A.M...

 and Nagasaki
Nagasaki
is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Nagasaki was founded by the Portuguese in the second half of the 16th century on the site of a small fishing village, formerly part of Nishisonogi District...

, rather than to religious faith
Roman Catholicism in Japan
The Roman Catholic Church in Japan is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome. There are approximately 509,000 Catholics in Japan—just under 0.5% of the total population. There are 16 dioceses, including three archdioceses with 1589...

. Producers of anime generally deny any religious motivation for depiction of crucifixion. Concern that Westerners may find these portrayals of crucifixion offensive has led some distributors and localization studios to remove crucifixion imagery from manga such as Fullmetal Alchemist and anime such as Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon, known as , is a media franchise created by manga artist Naoko Takeuchi. Fred Patten credits Takeuchi with popularizing the concept of a team of magical girls, and Paul Gravett credits the series with "revitalizing" the magical-girl genre itself...

.

Passion plays




Passion plays are dramatic presentations of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. They originated as expressions of devotion in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. In modern times, critics have said that some performances are antisemitic.

Film


Numerous movies have been produced which depict the crucifixion of Jesus. Some of these movies depict the crucifixion in its traditional sectarian form, while others intend to show a more historically accurate account. For example, Ben-Hur
Ben-Hur (1959 film)
Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston in the title role, the third film adaptation of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The screenplay was written by Karl Tunberg, Gore Vidal, and Christopher Fry. The score was composed by...

(1959), was probably the first movie to depict the nails being driven through Jesus' wrists, rather than his palms. Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson
Mel Colm-Cille Gerard Gibson, AO is an American actor, film director, producer and screenwriter. Born in Peekskill, New York, Gibson moved with his parents to Sydney, Australia when he was 12 years old and later studied acting at the Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art.After appearing in...

's controversial The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 American drama film directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus. It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John...

(2004) depicted an extreme level of violence, but showed the nails being driven into Jesus' palms, as is traditional, with ropes supporting the wrists.

Monty Python's Life of Brian
Monty Python's Life of Brian
Monty Python's Life of Brian, also known as Life of Brian, is a 1979 British comedy film written, directed and largely performed by the Monty Python comedy team...

ends with a comical sequence in which several of the cast, including Brian, are crucified by the Romans. The film ends with them all singing the song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" is a popular song written by Eric Idle that was originally featured in the 1979 film Monty Python's Life of Brian and has gone on to become a common singalong at public events such as football matches as well as funerals.-History:Whilst trying to come up...

". In this sequence, the characters are not nailed to the crosses, but tied at the wrists to the crossbar, and are standing on smaller crosspieces at foot level.

Although crucifixion imagery is common, few films depict actual crucifixion outside of a Christian context. Spartacus
Spartacus (film)
Spartacus is a 1960 American epic historical drama film directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the novel of the same name by Howard Fast...

(1960) depicts the mass crucifixions of rebellious slaves along the Appian Way
Appian Way
The Appian Way was one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, Apulia, in southeast Italy...

 after the Third Servile War
Third Servile War
The Third Servile War , also called the Gladiator War and the War of Spartacus by Plutarch, was the last of a series of unrelated and unsuccessful slave rebellions against the Roman Republic, known collectively as the Roman Servile Wars...

. Conan the Barbarian (1982) depicts the protagonist being crucified on the Tree of Woe.

Television


Simulated crucifixions have been performed in professional wrestling. On the December 7, 1998 edition of Monday Night Raw, professional wrestling character The Undertaker crucified Stone Cold Steve Austin
Stone Cold Steve Austin
Steve Austin , better known by his ring name "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, is an American film and television actor and retired professional wrestler...

. On October 26, 1996, in Extreme Championship Wrestling
Extreme Championship Wrestling
Extreme Championship Wrestling was a professional wrestling promotion that was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1992 by Tod Gordon and closed when his successor, Paul Heyman, declared bankruptcy in April 2001...

, Scott Levy
Scott Levy
Scott Anthony Levy , better known by his ring name Raven, is an American professional wrestler, wrestling producer, wrestling writer, and occasional author and actor currently working for Juggalo Championship Wrestling , where he is co-holder of the JCW Tag Team Championship, as well as other...

, aka Raven, during a feud with Jim Fullington
Jim Fullington
James "Jim" Fullington better known by his ring name Sandman, is an American professional wrestler, best known for his career with Extreme Championship Wrestling , where he developed into a "Hardcore Icon"...

, aka Sandman
Sandman
The Sandman is a figure in folklore who brings good sleep and dreams.Sandman may also refer to:-People:*Mark Sandman, singer and co-founder of the band Morphine*Charles W...

, instructed his Raven's Nest
Raven's Nest
Raven's Nest was a professional wrestling stable led by Raven that was present in Extreme Championship Wrestling between 1995 and 1997.Later, Raven created other incarnations of the group in World Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling .-Raven's Nest:Raven's Nest was a large...

 to crucify Sandman.

Other television performers have used crucifixion to make a point. The Australian comedian
Comedian
A comedian or comic is a person who seeks to entertain an audience, primarily by making them laugh. This might be through jokes or amusing situations, or acting a fool, as in slapstick, or employing prop comedy...

 John Safran
John Safran
John Safran is an Australian documentary maker and radio broadcaster, known for combining humour with explorations into religion and other issues...

 had himself crucified in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 as part of a Good Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

 crucifixion ritual for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly referred to as "the ABC" , is Australia's national public broadcaster...

 show, John Safran's Race Relations
John Safran's Race Relations
John Safran's Race Relations is an Australian comedy documentary television series by John Safran broadcast on ABC1 in 2009. The eight-part series is about cross-cultural, interracial and interfaith love...

. Singer Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams
Robert Peter "Robbie" Williams is an English singer-songwriter, vocal coach and occasional actor. He is a member of the pop group Take That. Williams rose to fame in the band's first run in the early- to mid-1990s. After many disagreements with the management and certain group members, Williams...

 performed a stunt on an April 2006 Easter Sunday show shown on the UK television channel Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

, in which he was affixed to a cross and pierced with needles.

The HBO television series Rome
Rome (TV series)
Rome is a British-American–Italian historical drama television series created by Bruno Heller, John Milius and William J. MacDonald. The show's two seasons premiered in 2005 and 2007, and were later released on DVD. Rome is set in the 1st century BC, during Ancient Rome's transition from Republic...

 contained several depictions of crucifixion, as it was a common torture method during the historical period the show takes place in.

Classical music


Famous depictions of crucifixion in classical music include the St John Passion and St Matthew Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

, and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was an Italian composer, violinist and organist.-Biography:Born at Iesi, Pergolesi studied music there under a local musician, Francesco Santini, before going to Naples in 1725, where he studied under Gaetano Greco and Francesco Feo among others...

's setting of Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater is a 13th-century Roman Catholic hymn to Mary. It has been variously attributed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi and to Innocent III...

. Notable recent settings include the St. Luke Passion
St. Luke Passion (Penderecki)
The St. Luke Passion is a work for chorus and orchestra written in 1966 by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki...

 (1965) by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki , born November 23, 1933 in Dębica) is a Polish composer and conductor. His 1960 avant-garde Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima for string orchestra brought him to international attention, and this success was followed by acclaim for his choral St. Luke Passion. Both these...

 and the St. John Passion
Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem
Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem is a passion cantata by Arvo Pärt for solo baritone , solo tenor , solo vocal quartet , choir, violin, oboe, cello, bassoon and organ...

 (1982) by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt
Arvo Pärt
Arvo Pärt is an Estonian classical composer and one of the most prominent living composers of sacred music. Since the late 1970s, Pärt has worked in a minimalist style that employs his self-made compositional technique, tintinnabuli. His music also finds its inspiration and influence from...

. The 2001 work, La Pasión según San Marcos (St Mark Passion), by Argentinian Jewish composer Osvaldo Golijov
Osvaldo Golijov
Osvaldo Noé Golijov is a Grammy award–winning composer of classical music.-Biography:Osvaldo Golijov was born in and grew up in La Plata, Argentina, in a Jewish family that had emigrated to Argentina in the 1920s from Romania and Russia.Golijov has developed a rich musical language, the result of...

 was named one of the top classical compositions of the decade for its fusion
Fusion (music)
A fusion genre is music that combines two or more styles. For example, rock and roll originally developed as a fusion of blues, gospel and country music. The main characteristics of fusion genres are variations in tempo, rhythm, i a sometimes the use of long musical "journeys" that can be divided...

 of traditional passion motifs with Afro-Cuban, tango
Tango music
Tango is a style of ballroom dance music in 2/4 or 4/4 time that originated among European immigrant populations of Argentina and Uruguay . It is traditionally played by a sextet, known as the orquesta típica, which includes two violins, piano, double bass, and two bandoneons...

, Capoeira
Capoeira
Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, and music. It was created in Brazil mainly by descendants of African slaves with Brazilian native influences, probably beginning in the 16th century...

, and Kaddish
Kaddish
Kaddish is a prayer found in the Jewish prayer service. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God's name. In the liturgy different versions of the Kaddish are used functionally as separators between sections of the service...

 themes.

Crucifixion has figured prominently in Easter cantatas
Passion cantata
A Passion cantata is a cantata that takes as its theme the Passion of Jesus Christ, i.e. the hours, days, or weeks leading up to and including his crucifixion. Some of the larger cantatas have been referred to as oratorios.-English:...

, oratorio
Oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

s, and requiem
Requiem
A Requiem or Requiem Mass, also known as Mass for the dead or Mass of the dead , is a Mass celebrated for the repose of the soul or souls of one or more deceased persons, using a particular form of the Roman Missal...

s. The third section of a full mass
Mass (music)
The Mass, a form of sacred musical composition, is a choral composition that sets the invariable portions of the Eucharistic liturgy to music...

, the Credo, contains the following passage at its climax: "Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est," which means "And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried." This passage was sometimes set to music separately as a Crucifixus, the most famous example being that of Antonio Lotti
Antonio Lotti
Antonio Lotti was an Italian composer of classical music.Lotti was born in Venice, although his father Matteo was Kapellmeister at Hanover at the time. In 1682, Lotti began studying with Lodovico Fuga and Giovanni Legrenzi, both of whom were employed at St Mark's Basilica, Venice's principal church...

 for eight voices.

The seven utterances of Jesus while on the Cross
Sayings of Jesus on the cross
There are seven expressions traditionally attributed to Jesus during his crucifixion, gathered from the four Canonical Gospels. Three of the sayings appear exclusively in the Gospel of Luke and three appear exclusively in the Gospel of John. The other saying appears both in the Gospel of Mark and...

, gathered from the four gospels, have inspired many musical compositions, from Heinrich Schütz
Heinrich Schütz
Heinrich Schütz was a German composer and organist, generally regarded as the most important German composer before Johann Sebastian Bach and often considered to be one of the most important composers of the 17th century along with Claudio Monteverdi...

 in 1645 to Ruth Zechlin in 1996, with the best known being Joseph Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

's The Seven Last Words of Christ
The Seven Last Words of Christ
The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour On the Cross is an orchestral work by Joseph Haydn, commissioned in 1785 or 1786 for the Good Friday service at Cádiz Cathedral in Spain...

, composed in 1787.

Depictions of crucifixion outside the Christian context are rare. One of the few examples is in Ernest Reyer
Ernest Reyer
Ernest Reyer, the adopted name of Louis Étienne Ernest Rey, was a French opera composer and music critic .- Biography :...

's opera Salammbô
Salammbô (opera)
Salammbô is an opera in five acts composed by Ernest Reyer to a French libretto by Camille du Locle. It is based on the novel Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert . The opera was first performed at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels on 10 February 1890...

(1890).

Popular music


The 1970 rock opera
Rock opera
A rock opera is a work of rock music that presents a storyline told over multiple parts, songs or sections in the manner of opera. A rock opera differs from a conventional rock album, which usually includes songs that are not unified by a common theme or narrative. More recent developments include...

 Jesus Christ Superstar
Jesus Christ Superstar
Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Tim Rice. The musical started off as a rock opera concept recording before its first staging on Broadway in 1971...

 by Tim Rice
Tim Rice
Sir Timothy Miles Bindon "Tim" Rice is an British lyricist and author.An Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Tony Award and Grammy Award-winning lyricist, Rice is best known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, with whom he wrote Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus...

 and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Baron Lloyd-Webber is an English composer of musical theatre.Lloyd Webber has achieved great popular success in musical theatre. Several of his musicals have run for more than a decade both in the West End and on Broadway. He has composed 13 musicals, a song cycle, a set of...

 ends with Jesus' crucifixion.

The cover art of Tupac Shakur
Tupac Shakur
Tupac Amaru Shakur , known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper and actor. Shakur has sold over 75 million albums worldwide as of 2007, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world...

's album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory is the fifth and final studio album by Tupac Shakur, under the new stage name Makaveli, finished before his death and his first studio album to be posthumously released...

 features an image of Tupac being crucified on a cross. He stated that the image was not a mockery of Christ; rather, it showed how he was being "crucified" by the media. Multiple Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson (band)
Marilyn Manson is an American metal band from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Formed in 1989 by Brian Warner and Scott Putesky, the group was originally named Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids with their uniquely theatrical performances gathering a local cult following in the early '90s. This attention...

 videos such as "I Don't Like The Drugs But The Drugs Like Me" and "Coma White" feature crucifixion imagery, often oddly staged in surreal modern or near modern day settings. The Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth
Gorgoroth is a Norwegian black metal band based in Bergen. Formed in 1992 by Infernus , the band is named after the dead plateau of evil and darkness in the land of Mordor from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings. The group is currently signed to Regain Records and have released...

 had several people on stage affixed to crosses to give the appearance of crucifixion at a now infamous concert in Kraków
Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

, and repeated this act in the music video for "Carving a Giant." In 2006, singer Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

 caused controversy by opening a concert held near Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

 with a mock crucifixion, complete with a Crown of Thorns
Crown of Thorns
In Christianity, the Crown of Thorns, one of the instruments of the Passion, was woven of thorn branches and placed on Jesus Christ before his crucifixion...

.

See also


  • Christian symbolism
    Christian symbolism
    Christian symbolism invests objects or actions with an inner meaning expressing Christian ideas. Christianity has borrowed from the common stock of significant symbols known to most periods and to all regions of the world. Religious symbolism is effective when it appeals to both the intellect and...

  • Cultural depictions of Jesus
    Cultural depictions of Jesus
    Jesus has inspired artistic and cultural works for nearly two millennia. The following lists cover various media to include items of historic interest, enduring works of high art, and recent representations in popular culture. These entries represent portrayals that a reader has a reasonable...

  • Descent from the Cross
    Descent from the Cross
    The Descent from the Cross , or Deposition of Christ, is the scene, as depicted in art, from the Gospels' accounts of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus taking Christ down from the cross after his crucifixion . In Byzantine art the topic became popular in the 9th century, and in the West from the...

  • Stations of the Cross
    Stations of the Cross
    Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. The tradition as chapel devotion began with St...