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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 17:27 GMT
Pope art condemned
The museum has only had a few complaints
A Catholic group is up in arms over an art exhibition which includes a ceramic figurine of an unnamed pope squatting.

The work by Spanish artist Antoni Miralda is on show at Copia, a Californian art museum dedicated to food and wine.

Entitled Poetical Gut, the display features 35 defecating figures including nuns, angels and a pope.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is upset the exhibition has been allowed to go ahead.

"When it's degrading, everybody knows it except the spin doctors who run the museums," said its league president William Donohue.

Alma Lopez says the picture shows a strong woman
There was outrage over the Virgin of Guadalupe
He has now written to the museum's board of trustees to complain on behalf of the group's 350,000 members, although he admitted he had not seen the exhibition.

The Copia museum has defended the show, saying it has received only three complaints.

Spokeswoman Helen Krassner explained the figurines - or caganers - are part of Spain's Catalonian peasant tradition dating back to the 18th Century.

She added that one is typically placed in a Nativity scene to bring families good luck and good health.

Religious images

The exhibit is due to run until April and the museum has no plans to give in to its detractors.

It is not the first time a religious group has got hot under the collar about religious being used in art.

A photograph depicting Christ's last supper which featured Jesus as a naked black woman was described by former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, as disgusting and "anti-catholic".

The exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art spurred him to set up a committee to examine taste and decency in art.

He was also incensed by a collage of the Virgin of Guadalupe clad in a flowery two-piece swimsuit at the same city-funded museum.

He tried to have the exhibition banned but was overruled by a federal court judge who said the mayor was infringing the First Amendment.

See also:

11 Oct 01 | Arts
Bikini-clad Madonna can stay
16 Feb 01 | Americas
'Naked Jesus' angers Giuliani
24 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Hirst in NY art row
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