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Monday, April 27, 2009

Artist Cancels Public Unveiling of Obama Blasphemy

I'm happy to say that Michael D'Antuono had second thoughts about unveiling his blasphemous portrait of Obama as a Christ figure. Praise God! The fact that he did this indicates, I think, that he may have failed to consider fully the ramifications of using sacred imagery as he did. I hope people will contact him and thank him for cancelling tomorrow's unveiling. His email address is

Here's the press release issued a few hours ago:

NEW YORK, April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Painter Michael D'Antuono has cancelled the planned public unveiling of his latest work "The Truth" at NYC's Union Square Park on President Obama's 100th day in office due to overwhelming public outrage. The artist's decision was based in part on thousands of emails and phone calls; online blogs and other public commentary received in the first 48 hours following its release.

The painting which was first made public on Friday depicts President Obama appearing much like Jesus Christ on the Cross; atop his head, a crown of thorns. Behind him, the dark veil being lifted (or lowered) on the Presidential Seal. The photo was the most emailed picture on the web.

The artist insists that the work was intended purely as a political piece. "The religious reference was used metaphorically and not to insult anyone's religious beliefs. If that is the effect that my art has had on anyone, I am truly sorry," says D'Antuono.

Over the next several weeks, the artist hopes to make public much of the content received that helped shape his decision. He continues to welcome people's questions, comments and feedback at

You can view some of his less controversial work at

Press Contact:


Anonymous said...

I'm reading this at work and wish I could get up on my desk and start cheering "Go, Mary Ann!" Absolutely one of the best letters expressing righteous indignation that I've ever read!

- Stephanie

Anonymous said...

In Defense of Michael D’Antuono

I believe Michael D'Antuono's intent in his painting "The Truth" is misunderstood by most of his recently found critiques.
Did Michael derive the inference equating Barack Obama to Jesus Christ, or has he merely commented on the fact that the inference exists? Should the artist be condemned by Christians the way Salman Rushdie was by world Muslims, just for mere mention of the subject?
Michael is an illustrator. He is not generally considered by the art world to be a political, social or conceptual artist. Michael has merely illustrated an image based on pre-existing controversy, his purpose to provoke an open dialogue by posing the questions…”is Obama being crucified by the right? Do people think he is the next savior?” He has not attempted to shake us with some original idea, observation, or opinion of his own. Neither was it Michael’s attempt to offend people of faith. Any faith. If so he wouldn’t have been so quick to cancel the showing out of respect.
And that is the difference between artist and illustrator. If his attempt as artist was to enlighten, provide some new revelation, another way of seeing, he should as an artist have the conviction to commit to his statement. It is an artist’s obligation to provide an exchange of ideas. Michael’s failure was to clarify his intent within the content of the painting itself. That is a criticism of his lack of artistic sophistication, of his artistic naïveté. Not of his illustrative ability.
The controversy itself, while being religious in subject was a political attack in reality. Created by the conservative right in response to Obama's successful presidential campaign. It was a reaction to the huge crowds drawn during his trip to Germany. Similar criticism's compared his popularity to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. The neocons impression that fans view Obama as a messianic figure due to his popularity is strictly their interpretation, not Michael’s assertion. Thus, they created the controversy. First they made the false assertion. Then they attacked the opposition for the assertion, albeit false. If you prefer, blame the media. Maybe Time Magazine. They fed into this false assertion.
This all brings back memories of some forty years ago, following the statement by John Lennon that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Many of my generation can vividly remember the resulting barn-fire burnings of their vinyl records and other memorabilia. Particularly in the conservative south. Dixie Chicks revisited. The key words here are "more popular than".
The other party realized that comparing Obama to Jesus would stir up strong feelings within the religious community. A strategic attempt to turn voters against the Democratic candidate. Therein lies Michael’s true objective. The controversy surrounding the false assertion. The controversy itself should be the resulting dialogue. Mistaking the difference between the comparisons to Jesus Christ himself versus "the popularity of."
And that should bring the dialogue back to political rather than religious.
Your open letter to the artist began as an attack on him for making an “offensive statement” in
his painting. Blasphemy you say. But then you structured your argument by quickly reciting the conservative party anti-Obama mantra, suggesting your righteous indignation may be disingenuous.
The conservative right is fast to defend to the death your right to your opinion under the first amendment… so long as it agrees with their thinking. But just as quick to attack with a vengeance those with different or opposing views. You were quick to impose your political views on this artist to the point of suggesting in detail what he should think or say, but condemn his right to his own viewpoints. In doing so you demonstrated exactly the political message Michael wished to bring awareness to. The intolerance and polarization within our political system that is tearing at the fabric of our democracy. Michael D’Antuono should not need to apologize for that.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Gandhi once said that those who say politics and religion have nothing to do with each other don't understand either politics or religion.

You say that the picture is not political then talk about the artist asking whether Obama is being crucified "by the religious right" or is he seen as a savior. That is the flip side of the same leftist view, i.e., Obama is the Messiah being crucified by the "religious right."

I believe that Mr. D'Antuono may very well have not intended to be offensive. (I suspect Madonna, on the other hand, was very deliberate when she added a mock crucifixion to her act.)

You are right about one thing - Christians are intolerant - intolerant of murdering children, starving and dehydrating the elderly, and violently retaliating against people with whom we disagree. We are also intolerant of "artistic freedom" that portrays a crucifix immersed in a vat of urine. (Try doing that with a picture of Martin Luther King.)

As for being disingenuous, I could say the same thing about your comment. I have no doubt that you disagree with my politics. But you, no doubt see yourself as the tolerant one. When the left demonizes the "religious right" they apparently see themselves as speaking truth. When Christians profess the doctrines of their faith, they are intolerant.

But who is really intolerant? Your comment about Rushdie attempts to brand the "Christian right" with the same extremist label as those who murder and terrorize. I wonder what you think about the Dept. of Homeland Security labeling pro-lifers terrorists.

Disingenuous one, heal thyself.