Naked chocolate Jesus in NY art gallery earns Christian wrath

Published 03 April 2007  |  
Christians in the US, enraged by the decision of a New York gallery to exhibit a milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ has forced the exhibition to close down.

The six–foot (1.8m) sculpture, entitled "My Sweet Lord," depicts Jesus Christ naked on the cross.

It was a Roman custom to strip naked those being crucified, and the Bible records the Roman soldiers dividing up Jesus' clothes between them.

According to the Christian critics, the statue highlighted how Easter has lost much of its Christian meaning amidst the giving and receiving of chocolate eggs just as Christmas has lost its meaning in an age of consumerism in a politically correct society.

According to Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League in the US, the exhibit was "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever."

The Catholic League, which describes itself as the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization, also criticized the timing of the exhibition.

"The fact that they chose Holy Week shows this is calculated, and the timing is deliberate," Donohue said, calling for a boycott of the gallery and the hotel which houses it.

The sculpture, by artist Cosmo Caballero, was scheduled to be on display from April 2 at Manhattan's Lab Gallery.

However, in the wake of angry e–mails and telephone calls, the gallery's creative director, Matt Semler said, March 30, that the display was taken down and the exhibit cancelled. According to news reports, Semler has, in turn, resigned in protest.

"We're obviously surprised by the overwhelming response and offence people have taken," he said. "We are certainly in the process of trying to figure out what we're going to do next."

Semler said the timing of the exhibition was coincidental.

Roger Smith Hotel president James Knowles has confirmed that the large public outcry, which included the likes of Cardinal Edward Egan, has forced the hotel to cancel the show.

Caballero, the Canadian–born artist, is known for using food ingredients in his art, on one occasion painting a hotel room in mozzarella cheese.

He used 200 pounds (90 kg) of chocolate to make the sculpture which, unusually, depicts Jesus without a loincloth.


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