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Thursday, 5 April, 2001, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Watchdog for New York art
New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani
The New York mayor vowed to clean up the city
The mayor of New York has set up a board to judge the morality of publicly funded art.

Rudolph Giuliani has created the decency commission in the wake of his disgust at recent exhibitions.

He has appointed 20 people to the board, including three artists, three clergy members, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa and the mayor's own divorce lawyer.

Giuliani hopes the commission will file a report into decency standards within three months.

Chris Ofili's Virgin Mary
Chris Ofili's Virgin Mary offended the mayor
He said: "It is certainly appropriate for this advisory group to take a look at what standards, if any should be applied, given that the city of New York currently provides 115m (80,076) in annual operating funding to cultural institutions."

Controversial art

The panel was created after Giuliani became fired up over a five foot photograph, called Yo Mama's Last Supper, which showed a black woman as Jesus.

He called the work, which was displayed at the city-funded Brooklyn Museum, "disgusting" and "anti-catholic".

The mayor was similarly incensed by the Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili's painting of the Virgin Mary engrained with elephant dung.

Giuliani pulled funding from the museum before being forced by a federal court to reinstate it.

Commission member Leonard Garment will chair a sub-committee to decide how to deal with art deemed offensive.

In 1990 he sat on the Independent Commission of the National Endowment for the Arts for a similar debate.

It eventually decided publicly-funded art should not be curtailed.

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See also:

16 Feb 01 | Americas
'Naked Jesus' angers Giuliani
03 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Elephant dung artist scoops award
28 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Hillary steps into dung art row
11 Jul 00 | UK
Brit art: Made to last?
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