Friday, April 11, 2008

Jesus In A Last Supper Orgy = Art! (Great lines in this one)

I remember hearing about this a couple of weeks ago, but a couple of lines in this take on the story are too fab to pass on... especially on a Friday:

Austria: Furor Over Jesus Orgy Drawing

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Is it art—or is it blasphemy?

Austrians are locked in a nationwide debate touched off by the brief display in a prestigious Roman Catholic museum of an etching that depicts Jesus Christ and his disciples having an orgy during the biblical Last Supper.

A chastened and chagrined Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the top churchman in this largely conservative and overwhelmingly Catholic country, has ordered the offending artwork removed.


The dispute began on March 12 with the opening of "Religion, Flesh and Power," a collection of about 50 paintings, drawings and sculptures—some with homo-erotic themes—by Austrian artist Alfred Hrdlicka.

Among them is Hrdlicka's rendition of the Last Supper: a large, loosely rendered black and white etching that shows Jesus and his disciples engaging in sex acts on the table where they shared their final meal before Christ's crucifixion.


Bernhard Boehler, director of the cathedral museum, said earlier this week he was "surprised at the heat of the battle" over the orgy drawing.

"In Austria, no special reason is required for a church museum to dedicate an exhibition to the most important living sculptor," Boehler said. But he said the museum decided to remove the offending work "out of consideration for the religious feelings of some Christians."

"The protests came primarily out of fundamentalist Christian circles in the USA and Germany," he said, referring to various Web sites.

"There is a long dialogue between art and the church," Boehler added. "For the church, the quality is decisive—not the piety of the artwork."

Hrdlicka could not be reached for comment Friday. But Kaufmann, the curator, said he was caught off-guard by the intensity of the debate.

"We were really sensitive" in choosing which works to show, he said, "and for me, the etching is fantastic."


Even Schoenborn paid homage to Hrdlicka as "one of Austria's most important living artists."

"Like nearly no other artist, he is concerned about suffering and mistreated people ... and he expresses this in his work in a shocking way," the cardinal said. "He says of himself that he is a communist and an atheist, but he nevertheless has a burning interest in the Bible."

I bet he does.


Have a great weekend!

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