Since 1955, Mormons have been inundated with Carl Heinrich Bloch’s illustrations of Christ. They are resproduced ubiquitously in LDS magazines, manuals and books, Mormon wall hangings, and in visual aids. Bloch paints Christ as a pasty-white Scandinavian.
According to Peggy Fletcher Stack, writing the SLTrib (6 Nov 2010):
In 1955, Doyle L. Green, managing editor of the LDS Church’s official publication, the Improvement Era, was searching for images to use in the magazine when he discovered Bloch.
The painter’s depictions, [Dawn] Pleysey [curator of a recent Bloch exhibition at BYU] says, seemed to mirror LDS views of a manly, yet compassionate Christ.
Green got permission to reproduce several of the Danish artist’s Jesus paintings in the magazine that year, and they were an instant hit. Green, as quoted in the curator’s book, said the works “tell a story of the Savior that can be understood by all. It is hoped that they will bring much inspiration, joy, and understanding to home and classrooms throughout the church.
Stack goes on the paranthetically state:
(An angel’s wings were airbrushed out of some reproduction, because Mormons don’t believe angels have wings.)
And aparently the Bloch images of Christ have had a strong attraction on recent LDS leaders:
LDS President Thomas S. Monson took the train to Frederiksborg Castle to see the original [Bloch] paintings in 1973 as did the previous Mormon prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, two decades later.
I would like to recommend that the LDS Church drop the Scandinavian look in favor of a more realistic depiction of Christ. Let’s make him look less like a movie star and more like a real man. Let’s drop the pasty-white skin, immaculate white robe, and well-groom hair. Let’s make him look like a Mediterranean who lived 2,000 years ago. Christ probably didn’t bathe everyday, and hair gel and styling mousse were not an option. The environment was frequently windy and sandy.
A darker, more realistic Christ would certainly benefit the missionary effort in developing countries.
PS. Let’s also stop the silly censorship (ie. taking the wings off angels)