Art School Displays Painting of Crucifix in Man's Posterior

Fred Lucas | July 7, 2008 | 8:06pm EDT
Font Size

( - A major New York art school is displaying sexually explicit paintings that depict a crucifix in a man's rectum and rosaries with male sex organs, among other offensive imagery, according to the Catholic League.

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City is hosting the art show, which began May 27 and runs through June 10. In the show is a series of paintings by Felipe Baeza. One painting shows a man with his pants pulled down and a crucifix extending from his rectum. Under the painting it says, "el dia que me converti catolico," which means, "The day I became a Catholic."

Another Baeza piece substitutes a Rosary for the crucifix. Another one shows a man with his pants down and an angel holding two Rosaries with a penis attached to each of them. In yet another painting there is a halo hovering over a naked man with an erection, according to the Catholic League.

Cooper Union was founded by industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper. The school has provided a full-tuition scholarship -- which it says is valued at $30,000 per year -- to every accepted student since 1859.

The school's Web site says of the current exhibit, "The School of Art faculty have selected major pieces by students representing 'the best of' each discipline ranging from sculpture, graphic design and painting to video installations."

But Catholic League President Bill Donohue said there is a difference between art and junk.

"That the works of this student should be deemed 'major,' representing the 'best' of the student contributions does not speak well for Cooper Union," Donohue said. "On the other hand, I have the sneaking suspicion that these paintings made the cut precisely because they were an assault on Catholic sensibilities. No, I can't prove what the motive was, but I can be deadly certain that if even a reverential portrait of Muhammad had been offered, it would have been rejected. I hasten to add that if a reverential portrait of Jesus had been submitted, it too would have been rejected, but for entirely different reasons."

"Admittedly, there is so much junk that passes as art these days that the public can be forgiven if it is no longer capable of making critical distinctions," Donohue said. "But we should expect more from the art faculty at a distinguished institution of higher education."

Jolene Resnick, the assistant director of public affairs and media relations, released the following statement to Cybercast News Service:

"The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art End-of-Year Show is curated by faculty of the schools of architecture, engineering and art, as it has been for more than 40 years. Hundreds of student works are shown annually without censorship -- a tradition at the school since its founding by Peter Cooper 150 years ago."

Make media inquiries or request an interview about this article.

Subscribe to the free daily E-Brief.

E-mail a comment or news tip to Fred Lucas

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.

mrc merch