Habemus Hominem

Artist and date

Jago, 2016

Dimensions, materials and tecniques

40 70 60 whl


This statue of former Pope Benedict XVI was first created for a competition for a Vatican commission. In 2011 the bust was selected for the Italian Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale. In that year, at the age of 24, Jago became one of the greatest living artist in Italy. At first, the Pope’s portrait was fully cloaked. Following Pope Benedict XVI’s 2013 resignation, the artist decided to “undress” the pontiff in order to reveal the man behind the function. The title Habemus Hominem (We have a Man) is a delightfully provocative statement on the former Pope’s transition back from Benedict XVI to Joseph Ratzinger. The Church usually announces Habemus Papam (We have the Pope), Jago decided to announce that we have a man now. When the viewer faces the pope, he or she is struck by the hyper-realistic feel of the bust and the surface of the skin. It is impossible to not share the gaze with him and the depth of his eyes. As long as many masterpieces in the Art History, the statue’s eyes follows the viewer as he moves in the space. What about Pope Benedict XVI’s opinion on this unsettling piece? His public statements on beauty are perhaps a good starting point. According to the former Roman pontiff, beauty should not be illusory or deceitful but “give us wings”, even if this means disturbing the soul. Habemus Hominem was eventually declined by the Holy See because it did not match the initial commission brief. However, Jago’s artistic talent was applauded by the Vatican. In fact, the artist received a Pontifical Medal from Cardinals Ravasi and Bertone for his work.

Provenance, literature, exhibitions & events