Pieta (The Empire Never Ended)


Waxwork, wood, leather, metal, fabric, hair

122 x 71 x 87 cm (48 1/16 x 27 15/16 x 34 1/4 in.)

Paul Fryer's Pietà (The Empire Never Ended), from the Pinault Collection, depicts the dead Christ on an electric chair. The extremely realistic sculpture was made in wax on the advice of Damien Hirst, who encouraged him to rework this piece initially created in 1983. Fryer postulates that if the Roman Empire had been able to execute Christ by electrocution, the American method of capital punishment in the 20th century, "millions of people around the world would now wear miniature electric chairs in silver or gold around their necks.”

In the 2000s, he produced a series of Pietàs that reactivated the violence of religious depictions. This member of the Young British Artists thus denounces the death penalty. The work revived his career. He began moving towards pieces with complex, fascinating mechanics that explore the issue of death.

Fryer's Pietà was first presented by the Pinault Collection during the "Qui a peur des artistes ?" (“Who’s Afraid of Artists?”) show at the Palais des Arts in Dinard in 2009.
Paul Fryer's other artwork