Monday, 30 November 2009
A Novel Use for Stone Genitals
On this day in 1900, Oscar Wilde died, in the Hotel d'Alscace in Paris, apparently from meningitis resulting from an ear infection (not, as was long assumed, syphilis). Illustrated above is his frankly bizarre and rather ugly tomb, designed by Jacob Epstein at Robbie Ross's request. That modernist angel originally had an impressive set of stone genitals (something of an Epstein trademark), but these proved irrestistible and were broken off and used as a paperweight by a succession of cemetery keepers, until they disappeared from view. In 2000 (according to Wikipedia) an 'intermedia artist' called Leon Johnson performed a ceremony, Re-Remembering Wilde, at the tomb, in the course of which a silver prosthesis was installed to replace the vandalised genitalia. What a charming thought - I'm sure Oscar would have been much amused.