Picture Perfect Jesus: The Glamorous Fraud
March 1, 2004, through June 30, 2004
America Oh Yes Art Gallery, Washington, DC
Norbert H. Kox
The intention of my artwork is to cause people to think, to research and investigate, rather than accept the blind traditions of men. The ultimate goal is to entice people to search the Scriptures on their own. The usual focus of my work is to target specific errors and idolatries of Humanity, revealing their fallacies through Scriptural references. I also try to point out areas of interest that need further investigation, in hopes that someone will be able to carry it to the next level.
The ridicule of Warner Sallman's Head of Christ (focused upon in this exhibit) is not a derision of the Saviour, but an expose of a false image. I have appropriated the Warner Sallman Head of Christ (1940) for the purpose of exposing it as a plagiarized fraud and not the Divine Image it is claimed to be.
Scripture warns against a false Christ image that becomes a living icon, and an object of worship (Revelation 13:14-15). Satan's plan is to be worshipped as God and Saviour (Isaiah 14:13-14; II Thessalonians 2:3-4; II Corinthians 11:14).
The Warner Sallman Head of Christ has become the accepted authentic portrait of Christ, having been reproduced over a billion times since 1940.
Sallman was a shrewd advertising marketer. He had a ploy to mass-market his art to the world. He found a painting of Christ that would be the perfect image to glamorize and sell to the world. It was the creation of French artist, Leon Lhermitte (lare-meet). The painting titled Emmaus, also known as Friend of the Humble, is a backlit Christ at a supper table (1892).
Being a graphic artist, Sallman was skilled in copy work. He simply copied the bust of Christ from Lhermitte's oil painting, transforming it into a charcoal drawing which he titled Son of Man. He never told anyone that he copied the image. There would have been no shame in copying (graphic artists do it all the time) if he had credited the original artist. But what glory is there in a copied image? Yet, if the drawing were original, received in a Divine Vision from God, it would be considered spectacular. So Sallman concocted an awesome story of a vision of light and an apparition of the Head of Christ.
By claiming the image as his own, Warner Sallman became a plagiarist, something he never admitted to.
The Son of Man charcoal drawing was first published in black and white on a magazine cover. Later it was mass-produced as a sepia print and sold to the people of America. In 1940, Sallman painted a full-color oil of his Son of Man, and renamed it Head of Christ. His colors, shading, highlighting, lay of the hair, folds of the robe, all matching the Lhermitte painting perfectly. The only difference, Sallman, being familiar with the glamour photographs of Hollywood movie stars, added the same type of backdrop to his Head of Christ. The result was the "Picture Perfect Jesus".
Accompanied with the story of its Divine origin, Sallman's Head of Christ met with mass-approval. Over 4,000,000 prints were sold in the first two years. By 1985 more than 500,000,000 copies had been sold. Today, 2004, the Head of Christ has been reproduced well over a billion times, and is the universally recognized portrait of Christ. This idol came with the stamp of authenticity. Who could doubt that this was the face of Christ when it came from God in a heavenly vision? Many revere it as a picture of God. It is the God and Saviour prayed to by the majority of the world's Christian population. It has been warned against throughout Scripture. It is all part of Satan's plan to rob glory from Yahweh.