Russian Church Leader Deems Contemporary Art “Filth and Stupidity”

Patriarch Kirill I, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Photo: D.Grishkin, courtesy Vedomosti.
Patriarch Kirill I, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Photo: D.Grishkin, courtesy Vedomosti.

The leader of Russia’s Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill I, has some rather, uh, unorthodox views about the state of contemporary art. As reported by the Moscow Times (via RIA Novosti), Kirill’s remarks at an Orthodox festival on Wednesday included a scathing critique of the contemporary arts, which he believes “show some horrors, some nonsense, idiocy.”

Kirill apparently doesn’t want to be challenged by culture, and only acknowledges artistic merits in relationship to beauty, dismissing less aesthetically pleasing works as “filth and stupidity under the guise of art.”

Sounding more like one of those ignore-at-all-costs subway preachers than a major religious leader, Kirill warns that “the purpose of [such] art is not to advance humankind…but to destroy [it].”

The art cognoscenti, the Russian patriarch contends, try to make the average person feel “unenlightened” for not appreciating modern art. Kirill cites a Chicago symphony that he had recently attended as an example, claiming that what started out as as “wonderful concert” quickly went downhill when the orchestra began playing “experimental music.”

“Everyone sat. Their faces tense, their eyebrows pursed with the desire to understand what was happening,” Kirill recounts. “But no one wants to be the one to say ‘the emperor has no clothes.’ Everyone was too afraid.”

Kirill is no stranger to being the center of controversies. He has long been rumored to have ties to the KGB, and he was outspoken in his attacks on artist activist group Pussy Riot.

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