Jumping the shark? Frog on a cross is one animal the Pope doesn’t care for…

Frog on a Cross.jpgPope Benedict XVI is quite an animal lover (as we noted here). But he is also quite the esthete, and this sculpture, in a museum in Bolzano, the northern Italian town near where the pontiff vacations, apparently went too far for his tastes.
According to a CNS story, the sculpture set off protests this summer that reached the pope’s ears when he visited in July. His Secretary of State (sort of the vice-pope) then sent a letter of support to a local official who was leading the charge to have the frog, er, dissected. The letter reportedly said the pope believes the sculpture “has wounded the religious sentiment of the many people who see in the cross the symbol of God’s love and our salvation.”
Yes, on one level. As the CNS story says, the sculpture “depicts a green frog nailed to the cross, holding a beer stein in one hand and an egg in the other. Its eyes are crossed and its tongue hangs out of its mouth.”
But let me play froggy’s advocate here–this isn’t an Andres Serrano “Piss Christ” or Madonna of the Elephnat Dung or whatever that Brooklyn Museum of Art piece was a few years back.
The sculpture is the work of the German artist Martin Kippenberger, who died in 1997 at the age of 44, a tormented figure himself, it seems:


“Museum officials have defended the work, saying it was intended as a self-portrait showing the torment faced by the artist. The sculpture was made in 1990, and the artist, who was said to consider the frog his alter ego, created other variations on the same theme.”

In a more detailed ANSA report, museum officials said they have moved the frog to a less prominent place, but have delined to remove it altogether. They said it is a self-portrait of the artist ”in a state of profound crisis” and is not an attack on religious feeling.
Sure, not quite the imitation of Christ most might like–certainly not B16–but powerful in its own way, perhaps. Intention is everything. Almost.

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posted September 4, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Guess Benny 16 hasn’t got anything else to do but worry about a sculpture, albeit one with a drunk frog on a cross? Lot of fuss and bother over nothing, IMO.

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Fr. Jay

posted September 5, 2008 at 11:38 am

What if, next week, someone discovered that this artist also created a sculpture of a frog depicting some event in the life of Muhammad? Or maybe a frog at Auschwitz? Would museum officials defend that work and proudly display it?

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Mere Catholic

posted September 5, 2008 at 2:44 pm

An Imitation of Christ? To Christians, the Cross is not only a tangible expression of Christian faith, but the living tree on which their God suffered and died. A frog with an egg and beer is an imitation of Christ only in the same way “Strange Brew” is an imitation of Hamlet. And to think, once upon a time art used to inspire faith.

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posted September 6, 2008 at 8:11 am

Good point by Father Jay in a post above.. If this was Mohammad being depicted, Islamic terrorists would have killed someone by now and people on the Left would be falling all over themselves looking to apologize for their “offense”.
Anti-Catholicism is the one last acceptable prejudice in this country.

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posted September 6, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Bob, you are in error.
There are a LOT of acceptable prejudices in this country.
The prejudices of the magisterial authority towards women
The prejudices of republicans against democrats and vice versa
The prejudices of fundamentalists against more liberal beliefs
The prejudices of the rich against the not so rich and vice versa
The prejudices of the muslims against christians and vice versa
The prejudices of the palestinians against the jews and vise versa
The prejudices of fans of proteam 1 against fans of proteam 2
The prejudices of the oil companies against all of us
Your statement is a prejudice as well
Muslim terrorists killed thousands of Americans 7 years ago
We have been killing muslims in Iraq for almost as long
There are NO acceptable prejudices
Instead of being offended, we could remember, that Christ died for ALL of us, even the artist who made the sculpture and the museum curators who display it.
When you look at it from a different perspective, it ceases to become offensive, and simply a different way of expressing how much Christ loves all of us. The frog isnt Christ … it is us, you and me, nailed to our own personal crosses before Christ rescued us.

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posted September 7, 2008 at 12:19 am

Artists are fully aware of the symbolism their works play on. This bozo was no different. He knew his work – placing a frog in the position traditionally held by millions of Christians’ savior holds, on the cross – would offend. Didn’t care anyway. And the museum administrators are disingenuous to act as though “it’s just art” and that Christians — the Pope or any others — shouldn’t be bothered by it. It’s revolting to anyone who takes seriously the truth of Jesus Christ as savior of humankind, plain and simple. If you call yourself a Christian and aren’t bothered by it, you should re-examine how much you really care about adoring and respecting Jesus as lord and savior.

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posted September 7, 2008 at 6:06 am

The other side of the issue MarkAA:
If you call yourself a christian and are standing in condemnation of a brother, perhaps you should reexamine how much you really care about adoring and respecting Jesus as lord and savior.
The story of the woman at the well, or the stoning of mary magdalene would be a good place to start. Or perhaps to remember that prior to and after the crucifiction, many criminals were executed on crosses. Christianity does not own the patent to a man on a cross.
The fact is, it is only revolting to you because you choose to see it that way.

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posted September 7, 2008 at 2:49 pm

Good point brought out in the post above, by DG. Hanging criminals on crosses was the punishment of the time. JC wasn’t the only man hung out to die.

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posted September 23, 2008 at 2:50 pm

But Jesus was THE only God/Man who transformed death by crucifixion
from a shameful crimimal punishment into a salvific act of love.
NO frog can compare…and neither can any man.

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posted September 24, 2008 at 8:50 pm

There is no proof of God/Man. The story book is really unreliable.

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