ROME — An art museum in northern Italy said Thursday it will continue displaying a sculpture portraying a green frog nailed to a cross that has angered Pope Benedict XVI and local officials.
The board of the foundation of the Museion in the city of Bolzano voted to keep the work by the late German artist Martin Kippenberger, the museum said in a statement.
The pope wrote a letter to Franz Pahl, the president of the Trentino-Alto Adige region that includes Bolzano, denouncing the sculpture this month.
It "has offended the religious feelings of many people who consider the cross a symbol of God's love and of our redemption," Pahl said the pope wrote in the letter.
Pahl has long opposed the display of Zuerst die Fuesse (First the Feet in German), even staging a hunger strike this summer and saying he would not seek re-election unless it was removed.
The 1990 wooden sculpture shows the crucified frog nailed through the feet and hands like Jesus Christ. The frog, eyes popping and tongue sticking out, wears a loincloth and holds a mug of beer and an egg in its hands.
The museum said the 3-foot-tall sculpture has nothing to do with religion, but is an ironic self-portrait of the artist and an expression of his angst.