The Crucified Frog – Art or Ordure?

Posted by Censor Librorum on Sep 1, 2008 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Popes, Scandals

Is Catholic art getting too  excremental?

In recent years we’ve been treated to “Senation,”  a Virgin Mary pelted with elephant dung; and  “Piss Christ”- a crucifix immersed in the artist’s  urine.

Now it’s “Zuerst dei Fuesse” (Feet First). A green frog is  nailed to a cross holding a beer mug in one outstretched hand and an egg in the other. The frog wears a green loincloth and is pinned to the cross in the manner of Jesus Christ. Its green tongue hangs out of its mouth. crucifix-frog.JPG

The 4′  wood sculpture was made by the late German artist Martin Kippenberger.

Franz Pahl, an official from the Trentino-Alto Adige region in northern Italy, said the pope had written to him to complain about the frog, which was installed in May at Museion, the modern art museum in Bolzano.

In a letter dated August 7, 2008, Pope Benedict said that the sculpture “injured the religious feeling of many people who see the Cross the symbol of the love of God and of our salvation, which deserves recognition and religious devotion.”

The board of the Museion museum decided by a majority vote that the frog was a work of art and would stay in place for the remainder of the exhibit.

Museum officials said the artist, who died in 1997,  considered the sculpture to be a self-portrait illustrating human angst. “Fred the Frog” was Kippenberger’s alter-ego.

An art critic exclaimed: “In this work Kippenberger represents a society that appears perfect but is actually hypocritical…the frog on the cross represents men reduced to animals, that drink to the point of demeaning themselves, that cannot free themselves from the cross of alcohol lived as a plague. And Kippenberger condemns a society that, one the one hand claims to be Christian and on the other, right under and before Christ that it reckons to venerate, can only express its worst side.”

“A crucifixion is always an invitation to reflect on suffering,” said another critic. “In any event of contemporary art you will find more or less strong works on religion. It is part of people’s life, it is normal for it to become an ingredient of art. Society is getting used to being hypersensitive about certain themes but nobody can feel offended by a work of art.”

Well, Pope Benedict, who is German himself, obviously doesn’t agree.

Artsy’s Kippenberger site.

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