Andres Serrano’s controversial photograph, “Piss Christ,” is for sale, and the Catholic League thinks anyone who would buy it is a “sucker” and a “lout.”
The 1987 award-winning photograph depicts a crucifix submerged in a red-gold liquid, which Serrano claims is his urine. It angered many Catholics, and sparked a debate about government funding for the arts when the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Serrano $15,000 for it in 1989. In 2011, angry French protesters attacked one of the prints with hammers.
The Catholic League, an organization founded to defend the rights of Catholics, has condemned the piece in the past as “gratuitous and intentionally insulting,” but in a statement Thursday league President Bill Donahue mocked Serrano and the piece:
“Piss Christ” is Serrano’s primary contribution to Western Civilization: he urinated in a jar with a crucifix. Serrano claims that Christians who complain about “Piss Christ” do not understand that he never intended to insult them. Perhaps it was meant as a “love letter.” No matter, there is no record of him defecating in a jar with a statue of Muhammad. Or a picture of his mother. Perhaps he loves them less.
Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest brokers of art, will auction a print Thursday at 9:30 a.m., and expects to get between $100,00 and $150,000 for it. “The Catholic League will not make a bid,” Donahue added in the statement. “But we are interested in interviewing the sucker who buys it. If you know who the lout is, please have him give us a call.”
Serrano has said he wasn’t trying to offend. “At the time I made Piss Christ, I wasn’t trying to get anything across,” he told the Guardian. “In hindsight, I’d say Piss Christ is a reflection of my work, not only as an artist, but as a Christian.”