February 17, 2001
volume 12, no. 48

New York Museum in Hot Water Over Anti-Christian Art...Again

    NEW YORK, Feb. 15, 01 ( - A New York art museum supported by tax dollars which was at the center of a controversy over anti-Christian art in 1999 has angered Christians again with a portrait of the Last Supper with a naked woman as Christ.

    The Brooklyn Museum of Art will open a new exhibit on Friday that includes "Yo Mama's Last Supper," which depicts Christ as a nude woman standing with her arms outstretched and 11 black men disciples sitting or standing on either side of her and one white man as Judas.

    The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said on Thursday it was sending a letter of protest to the museum over the five-panel photo by New York photographer Renee Cox, whose work has been described by critics as overtly feminist. "The museum didn't have to choose this as representative of Renee Cox's work," Catholic League President Bill Donohue told Reuters new service.

    A museum spokeswoman declined to comment on specific works contained in the exhibition, which also includes a photograph by Willie Middlebrook of a topless woman on the cross.

    New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani revoked the museum's city funding in 1999 after it held an exhibition including a portrait entitled "Holy Virgin Mary" smeared with elephant dung and including cut-out photos of female genitalia. The city and the museum went to court over the funding dispute. Under a March 2000 settlement, the city was ordered to continue giving previously allocated money to the museum and an additional $5.8 million in capital funding.


Mayor Has No Stomach for Exhibit's "Last Supper"

    NEW YORK, FEB. 16, 2001 ( The Brooklyn Museum exhibit featuring a nude black woman as Jesus at the Last Supper came under attack by the city's mayor, who called it "disgusting" and "anti-Catholic."

    The exhibit, entitled "Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers," includes "Yo Mama's Last Supper" by photographer Rene Cox, in which she herself poses, replacing Christ. Her manifest intention is "criticizing the Catholic Church for the absence of woman's role in it."

    In 1999 the museum came under fire for housing an exhibit which featured a Virgin Mary with elephant excrement and clippings of pornographic magazines.

    Mayor Rudolph Giuliani declared that he would appoint a commission to set "decency standards" to keep such work out of museums that receive public money. He lost a court battle to close down the museum after the 1999 incident. ZE01021602


Brooklyn Museum of Art Offends Again

By William Donohue , President of the Catholic League

    Catholic League president William Donohue sent this letter today to Barbara Millstein, curator of the Brooklyn Museum of Art:

    From viewing the book that accompanies the Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibition, “Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers,” it is clear that most entries are worthy of much praise. But it is also clear that the display by Renee Cox, “Yo Mama’s Last Supper,” is worthy of much condemnation. To vulgarize Christ in this manner is unconscionable. That it was chosen for inclusion in this exhibit is morally indefensible.

    Renee Cox is no stranger to Catholic bashing. She has justified her attacks by blaming the Catholic Church for slavery—a scurrilous lie—and has on several occasions used Catholic imagery in ways that are patently offensive. To wit: she has portrayed Christ on the cross castrated; she has appeared half naked as Our Blessed Mother holding a Christ-like figure in her work, “The Pieta”; and she has dressed as a nun with a naked women kneeling before her in prayer.

    After the furor over the “Sensation” exhibition, the officials at the Brooklyn Museum of Art must have known that “Yo Mama’s Last Supper” would offend the sensibilities of many New Yorkers. But this seems not to matter. Indeed, you yourself treated criticisms of this display in a manner that was as cavalier as it was coarse (e.g. “There are images of this scene with dogs at the Last Supper”).

    I would love to know whether there is any portrayal of any aspect of history that you might personally find so offensive as to be excluded from an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. For starters, would you include a photograph of Jewish slave masters sodomizing their obsequious black slaves? And worry not, when contemplating your answer, just think of it as a work of high artistic merit.

    I would appreciate hearing from you about this matter.

February 17, 2001
volume 12, no. 48
USA News
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