.- Catholic League president Bill Donohue has criticized the New York auction house Sothebyâs for including an artwork of a crucified frog in its latest exhibit. Pope Benedict XVI previously wrote that the work âinjuredâ religious feeling and an Italian official went on a hunger strike to protest its display in a regional museum.
The auction house is hosting an exhibition titled âDivine Comedyâ containing about 80 works related to Dante Alighieriâs masterpiece. The exhibit includes artist George Condoâs âThe Priest,â a 2010 depiction of a deformed animalâs face resting upon the torso of a priest. Another work is Salvador Daliâs 1962 âThe Vision of Hell,â which shows pitchforks and a portrait of the Virgin Mary.
The Catholic League reports that one prominently displayed piece is Martin Kippenbergerâs âZuerst die Fuesse (Feet First). The decades-old work substitutes a crucified frog for Jesus on the Cross. The animal is holding a mug of beer and an egg.
Donohue described Condoâs work as âamateurishâ and Daliâs as ârepresentative of his usual edginess.â
âBut Kippenberger's crosses the line,â he continued, claiming that Pope Benedict was angry when he learned of the work two years ago.
Donohue cites the Popeâs Aug. 7, 2008 letter to Franz Pahl, the regional official in Italy where the sculpture was on display at a museum. According to Donohue, the letter said it âinjured the religious feeling of many people who see in the Cross the symbol of the love of God and of our salvation, which deserves recognition and religious devotion.â
Pahl agreed and went on a hunger strike to protest it.
âThe Pope was too gentle. Kippenberger's art is degrading, insulting and grossly offensive,â the Catholic League president charged.
He said that Sothebyâs should explain why it is featuring an artwork which is an âassault on Christian sensibilities.â
The exhibit opened on Thursday and runs until October 19.