The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Thursday, September 19, 2019

Hundreds protest smashing of 'Mephistopheles' figure in Saint Petersburg
Mephistopheles flying over Wittenberg, in a lithograph by Eugène Delacroix.

SAINT PETERSBURG (AFP).- More than a thousand Russians rallied in Saint Petersburg on Sunday after a century-old bas relief of a mythical demon was destroyed amid fears of increasing religious intolerance under President Vladimir Putin.

Last week, the figure of Mephistopheles was ripped down from the facade of a century-old building in Saint Petersburg. An obscure group calling itself the Cossacks of Saint Petersburg claimed responsibility.

The seemingly religiously-motivated act of vandalism caused an outcry in the former imperial capital and police launched a probe.

The figure of a bat-winged creature on Lakhtinskaya Street dated back to around 1910. 

By some accounts, the bas relief paid homage to legendary Russian opera singer Feodor Chaliapin famed for his role of Mephistopheles. 

More than a thousand people including architecture preservationists gathered in front of the building in the city centre to express their dismay over what activists dubbed a "brazen act of vandalism."

"Hands off art," read one placard, while another one said in English: "Save our Saint Petersburg."

"What happened is awful," said Anna Astakhova, 35.

"If it's true that the bas relief was destroyed for religious reasons, then we are descending into the Middle Ages. This is inadmissible."

Another protester, Galina Vanina, added: "I am an Orthodox Christian myself but I do not support this absurdity."

"Art cannot offend anyone," added the 60-year-old woman, calling those who destroyed the figure "vandals."

A lawmaker with the Yabloko liberal opposition party, Boris Vishnevsky, said the architectural heritage should be protected.

"One cannot mistreat the city," he said.

In an open letter, the Cossacks of Saint Petersburg said the figure encouraged "open worship of Satan" and was unacceptable because it was opposite a church.

Established Cossack groups in the city denied any knowledge of this group, however.

Cossacks once defended the borders of the Russian empire but now often campaign to promote conservative values. 

Police said they had found smashed fragments of the figure in rubbish sacks.

Prosecutors opened a probe into destruction of cultural heritage, which carries a jail term of up to two years.

-'Northern Palmyra'-A spokesman for the powerful Russian Orthodox Church said the attack was an understandable reaction.

"Mephistopheles embodies evil in this world and this person decided to act, most likely, to kill Evil," spokesman Roman Bagdasarov told pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia.

Saint Petersburg famed for its cultural heritage is often called the "northern Palmyra."

After the destruction of the bas relief some drew parallels between the Russian vandals and Islamic State militants who blew up a temple at Syria's ancient ruins of Palmyra.

Earlier this month fundamentalist Orthodox activists attacked several exhibits at a show of sculptures in Moscow, saying they offended believers.

The attackers damaged several linocuts by renowned Soviet artist Vadim Sidur that will cost more than 1 million rubles ($15,000) to restore.

Since returning to the presidency for a third term in 2012, Putin has been promoting an unflinchingly conservative agenda in a move aimed at cementing his support among blue-collar workers and elderly Russians, his core backers.

Kremlin critics say that after the seizure of Crimea from Ukraine last year that conservative trend has become disturbingly strong.

© 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

August 31, 2015

National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City exhibits the enigmatic Calakmul mask

Japanese toilet giant flipping open new museum dedicated to a century of lavatories

Palm Springs Art Museum opens the acclaimed exhibition 'Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe'

'Mito e Natura: Dalla Grecia a Pompei' on view at the Palazzo Reale in Milan for Expo 2015

Bruce Museum curator authors a paper on the reconstruction a 34 million year old penguin's brain

Chinese paintings and works of art rich in symbolism characterize Gianguan Auctions' September 12th Sale

Volkswagen launches cultural engagement initiative in China with opening of the Rain Room

First one-man-show of Korean artist Kwang Young Chun's work opens at Beck & Eggeling

Over and Some Touch of...: Group exhibition opens at CACT Centro d'Arte Contemporanea Ticino

Contemporary art installation at Smithsonian's Sackler Gallery explores images of Egypt

Craft in America episode focuses on how fine handmade instruments are crafted

Solo exhibition of new works by artist Cecilia Paredes opens at Ruiz-Healy Art

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago partners with the Chicago Architecture Biennial

First major solo exhibition of visual artist Anne de Vries opens at Foam

Young French photographer Jean-Vincent Simonet opens exhibition in Amsterdam

Migrant drama hits European screens in film 'Mediterranea'

Pablo Helguera's 'Librería Donceles' opens at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle

Jailed filmmaker inspires Ukraine with bestselling book

Hongkong Land presents 'Parallel Worlds: Where Art & Archaeology Collide'

Hundreds protest smashing of 'Mephistopheles' figure in Saint Petersburg

New book presents Eric Maillet's entire body of personal photographic work

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Holocaust 'masterpiece' causes uproar at Venice film festival

2.- To be unveiled at Sotheby's: One of the greatest collections of Orientalist paintings ever assembled

3.- Bender Gallery features paintings by up and coming Chicago artist Michael Hedges

4.- Lévy Gorvy exhibits new and historic works by French master in his centenary year

5.- Artificial Intelligence as good as Mahler? Austrian orchestra performs symphony with twist

6.- Fascinating new exhibition explores enduring artistic bond between Scotland and Italy

7.- Exhibition explores the process of Japanese-style woodblock production

8.- Robert Frank, photographer of America's underbelly, dead at 94

9.- The truth behind the legend of patriot Paul Revere revealed in a new exhibition at New-York Historical Society

10.- Hitler bust found in cellar of French Senate

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful