Although I’m no artist, I’m pretty confident I can answer that question easily. In fact, I can provide 2 answers.
First, artists will never leave Jesus alone while people continue to believe every mythological piece of his story. Once people cease to get cross when seeing an artist’s latest re-imagined crucifixion, artists may not see a point in creating them anymore. I doubt that day is coming anytime soon, so the artists will still look toward religious iconography for ideas. This type of thing shouldn’t be treated any different than we treat depictions of Zeus during his bull and swan days. Zeus had a strange way of romancing the ladies and for centuries artists have enjoyed finding ways to illustrate that. The continued interest in the crucifix is a similar thing and nowhere near as sexy…although I suppose it has to be noted that there was penetration…
For the second answer, I look to the article about this new art:
The latest artistic crucifixion is by the indigenous filmmaker Warwick Thornton, who nails himself to a fluorescent cross floating above a desert landscape.
Thornton’s Stranded, a 3D video artwork that will be exhibited at Stills Gallery in Paddington from September 7, features him dressed in a drover’s outfit, but close-ups of his chest reveal what appears to be the bloody remnants of a whipping. He appears drowsy, head slumped and yawning.
He’s an Aboriginal from Australia and a Christian, and it’s assumed he’s attempting to symbolize the suffering of his own people. The video is an entry for something called the Blake Prize, described in the article as, “a magnet for artistic depicting Christ’s final moments.” The official site states that it’s named after William Blake, whose own work often referred back to the bible (among other sources). He also gave the world illustrations of the Book of Revelation. I’m sure the world was really in need of that. It’s put on by the Blake Society,
a non-profit organisation that administers and manages an annual Blake Prize and Exhibition program for contemporary art and poetry exploring the themes of spirituality, religion and human justice.
So, the second answer is: they’re asking for it. If there was no interest in seeing new Jesus-inspired art, artists would probably stop producing it. But, since they can win prizes for the best new Jesus art, they’ll go to extremes in trying to achieve that honour. Quoting the article again:
“One of the central realities of the crucifixion is its essentially shocking nature,” he said. “It is by essence scandalous and controversial. It is not neat, tidy and domestic. It is a figure bleeding in utter agony – how can this be God?”
Pattenden said artists such as Serrano, Roberts and Thornton prevent the story of Christ becoming kitsch. “Because I work in the church I know that images lose their effect and power when they become familiar.”
Stops the story from becoming kitsch? What rock has he been living under? There’s enough evidence around to demonstrate it already is in some circles.
Or this stations of the cross tie:
Or any number of other tacky things found at flea markets and garage sales.
So long as there’s a market for it, people will produce it.