Saints & Sinners: Observations on the Cult of Celebrity

Saints & Sinners: Observations on the Cult of Celebrity
Lecture by James Robinson, Keeper, Department of Art and Design, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh.

James Robinson

Wednesday, May 14, 2014. 5:30 p.m.

Free and open to the public.

James Robinson draws on the parallels between medieval devotion to saints and modern adulation of celebrities with reference to the following: Christological allusion (James Dean, Jim Morrison), pilgrimage, enshrinement and annual commemoration (Elvis Presley/Graceland), perverse satisfaction thought to be imbued with the quality of the previous owner (Marilyn Monroe’s gowns, Michael Jackson’s diamante glove), and fame through a desire to do good (Princess Diana, Audrey Hepburn). Princess Diana emerges as a figure that is particularly close to a medieval saint with her apparent healing touch and her glowing presence. Diana highlights the tensions between the saint and sinner – a virgin princess and a celebrity who proved to be both beneficial and detrimental to the British monarchy.


Sponsored by the DePaul Department of History of Art and Architecture