Austrian Catholics riot, sack Linz, and call for beheading of artist Alfred Hrdlicka
VIENNA (Reuters) - They knew it would be risky to exhibit a homoerotic version of Christ's Last Supper, but curators at museum of Vienna's Roman Catholic Cathedral weren't ready for a barrage of angry messages and calls to be shut down.
The source of the dispute, which Austrian media has dubbed Vienna's version of the Mohammad caricature row, is a retrospective honoring Austria's cherished artist Alfred Hrdlicka, who turned 80 earlier this year.
But not everyone has been wishing Hrdlicka a Happy Birthday. And the Cathedral Museum's director and Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna, have both come under fire from some museum visitors and Catholic websites.
The Church hastily removed the main picture, "a homosexual orgy" of the Apostles as Hrdlicka describes it.
Wait let me look out the window.
It's quiet in the streets.
This must mean Austria is an ungodly place.
Next up the portrait of the famous gay scene between Mohammad, Umar, Ali and the Sheiks of Kaybar painted by Moishe ben Quryash, to be shown in Islamabad.
Oh my God, a discussion? We're headed for hell.
But the protest has continued, much to the surprise of the small Cathedral Museum which is nestled down a narrow street in Vienna's historic Gothic quarter.
The museum's director defends both Hrdlicka's work and his decision to host the artist's controversial versions of biblical imagery in a museum tied to the Catholic Church.
"We think Hrdlicka is entitled to represent people in this carnal, drastic way," Bernhard Boehler said in his small museum office, across the street from Vienna's imposing St. Stephan's Cathedral.
He said the museum never intended to offend people but that art should be allowed to provoke a debate."I don't see any blasphemy here," he said, gesturing at a Crucifixion picture showing a soldier simultaneously beating Jesus and holding his genitals. "People can imagine what they want to."