Francesco Vezzoli Thinks Religions Are Interesting, But Sacrilege Is More Fun

There’s only one more week to catch Francesco Vezzoli’s Sacrilegio exhibit, in which photocopied images of supermodels are affixed to facsimiles of Renaissance paintings—thus rendering Naomi Campbell as the Virgin Mary—while giant tears made of actual bits of embroidery and needlepoint stream from their eyes like some sort of cartoon stigmata. You really have to go and see for yourself. But first, a quick Q&A with the artist…

As a culture, are we as obsessed with celebrity as with religion?
We live in an obsessive era, so we tend to be obsessed with religions, with celebrities, with our own weight, with our appearance, and with many other things.

Is religion or sacrilege more interesting to you?
Religions are more interesting, sacrilege is more fun.

How important is fashion to you?

Are we in a new kind of Renaissance, as your show could suggest?
Many contemporary artists do behave and function like Renaissance artists, for better or for worse.

How did you come to embrace the medium of needlepoint, which is more often associated with old, lonely grandmothers?
I like oxymorons.

Your work seems influenced by famous men of the arts—Duchamp, Dali, Fellini, Vidal—but they rarely appear in your work. Why is that?
Men are more ill-at-ease with their vanity, so I prefer to work with women.

Berlusconi seems like he’d be a natural fit for one of your films. Have you ever approached him to work with you?
I would love to but I am afraid he would turn down my proposal for being too revealing or daring.

Gagosian, 522 West 21st Street, NYC, through March 12, 2011