Hieronymus Bosch Banned!

A music CD with a painting by Hieronymus Bosch on its cover has been banned by Polish “education inspectors,” because in their words – “There are pornographic scenes in the Bosch picture that can damage people.” The Polish education ministry had intended to give away copies of the CD to high-school students who excelled in their studies – but reactionaries within the ministry objected to the nudity depicted in the painting. Before long we’ll be hearing that the so-called “education inspectors” have enacted a ban preventing students from entering the country’s art museums – where innocents could be exposed to more pornography by the likes of Goya, Rubens, and Titian. The offending Bosch painting hangs in the Museo del Prado of Madrid Spain, an institution the inspectors will no doubt declare a den of iniquity.

The Garden of Earthly Delights, porno?

[ Detail of Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, as it appears
on the banned CD cover. ]

The now prohibited CD by Polish rockers, Normalsi, uses a detail from The Garden of Earthly Delights, the masterpiece created by Bosch in 1504. A triptych painted on wood, the oil painting portrays heaven and hell, the rewards given the faithful, and the wages of sin. The CD cover art uses a detail from the rightmost panel of the triptych, which depicts hell. Bosch was deeply religious, and while his surreal images are impenetrable to the modern viewer – they spoke directly to the pious of his time.

In Bosch’s painting a giant bird-like monster is seen devouring humanity and excreting them into pit. People are tortured with musical instruments and suffer all manner of anguish. The details surrounding the avian ogre are allegorical, imparting warnings about sin. The woman beneath the bird chair represents those guilty of pride; she’s been seized by a demon as she gazes into a mirror – which also happens to be another monster’s buttocks. Also beneath the evil bird monarch, one sees a man defecating coins into the pit – he represents those who have fallen to the sin of avarice. Next to him another man vomits into the abyss – symbolizing those guilty of gluttony. If Bosch were alive today he would undoubtedly paint a number of education inspectors into his horrifying vision of the underworld.

Similar Posts