Frenchmen attack Piss Christ

Museum curator Jean-Marc Ferrari shows the damage U.S. artist Andres Serranos artwork Immersion (Piss Christ) suffered in Sundays attack at Avignons Lambert Collection Museum of Contemporary Art. (Claude Paris/Associated Press)

Looks like Americans aren’t the only art-hating crazies in the world! Last week a mob of angry French villagers (okay, so it was really three Catholic activists) attacked Andres Serrano’s photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine on display at the Collection Lambert art museum in Avignon, France.

Serrano, a devout Catholic, often pairs religious icons and interesting fluids in his art. The work in question, Immersion (piss christ), was intended as a statement on the commercialization of religion. I guess the activists didn’t get it.

Serrano told Libération: “I find it extremely sad, and unexpected. Frankly, I wasn’t expecting something like this at all, especially in France, where I get a lot of support.” Serrano also reiterated that he is a Christian artist and has no tolerance for blasphemy.

The Catholic bishop of Avignon, Monseigneur Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, has described Serrano’s photograph as “odious” and has called for its removal.

Over the years, “Piss Christ” has generated a lot of heated rhetoric. The work was a central focus of the Culture Wars in the 1990s, in which politicians and arts supporters debated whether the National Endowment for the Arts should support works by Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe and other transgressive artists.

You can read some awesomely disparate reactions to Piss Christ at the L.A. Times.

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