Wednesday’s shooting at the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris struck some of France’s best known satirical cartoonists, exposing a risk very few in the elite echelons of the art world have been eager to take.
Charlie Hebdo had drawn attention and sometimes criticism in recent years with a string of cartoon covers ridiculing religious bigotry and Islamist fundamentalism in particular.
“People are scared of being killed,” London-based artist George Passmore told the Journal in an interview last August. “The idea of confronting Christian values in art has been going on for hundreds of years, but it’s still so new to confront radical Islam in art.”
Passmore, part of the artistic duo Gilbert & George, have been breaking that taboo in the past few years through shows of digitally manipulated photographs exploring Europe’s debate over banning burkas, the Islamic garment, in public.
The two men came to prominence through artwork in the 1980s that focused on explicit homosexual themes, later switching to art addressing Islamism. Many of their photographs are taken in their formerly homogenous London neighborhood, which in recent years has become a place where many British-born women wear full black burkas, they say…