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Artist cancels showing of unconventional Obama portrait

April 28, 2009 |  6:45 am


A New York artist has canceled the public showing of his portrait of President Obama after receiving a barrage of angry e-mails condemning the religious nature of the work.

"The Truth," a painting by Michael D'Antuono, was scheduled to go on view Wednesday in Union Square in Manhattan to mark the president's first 100 days in office.

The work depicts Obama in a crucifix pose and wearing a crown of thorns, with the presidential seal in the background.

The artist said that he intended to display the acrylic painting in a mock voting booth, with viewers lining up to see it one by one. The booth would have been located on the south side of Union Square, near the Whole Foods grocery store.

"It was supposed to provoke political dialogue," the artist told Culture Monster on Monday. "I wanted to start a discussion. Is Obama being crucified by the right? Do people think he's the next savior?"

D'Antuono said he has received more than 1,000 e-mails, the vast majority of which criticize the use of Christian symbolism in the painting.

"I canceled the showing out of respect for religion. It was not meant to offend so many people," he said. "I don't think it would be helpful to the cause of unity to show it."

-- David Ng

Photo: Image of "The Truth," a painting by Michael D'Antuono. Courtesy of the artist.

Comments () | Archives (38)

This is ridiculous...thank goodness he didn't unveil it. If you want that crap for your private collection, fine. But it is offensive to us who still live on values of Christianity. A slap in the face. And just as the Muslim nation of America is being assured more rights and comforts we Christians are losing them. This country was built on the belief in God our Father...I feel along with many close loved ones that it won't be long before God decides to come down and handle His business. I just hope everyone is ready...

If you are offended, you can always choose not to see it. I am offended by your close-mindedness and bigotry, and hence choose not to spend my time in company of people like you. If you want entertainment, art is not the place to look for it.

Personally, I think the piece does not have much going for it artistically, but the artists message is powerful and thought-provoking.

The artist "canceled the showing out of respect for religion" but offended his own right of being an artist. I am a Christian and am deeply in love with Jesus but to sell yourself out and cancel a show of a religious political piece of art because you received some flack may say more about the spinelessness of the artist not being able to stick to his guns. Art is suppose to provoke and prod and make people think. Not that I agree with the statements made by all artist and their artwork but they need to be true to who they are, what they believe in and why they are doing what they are doing.

I am not offended by this painting. It seems to be an attempt by the artist to draw attention to his works, and it has. In our free society this type of image is barked at by some, and applauded by others for it's daring nature. Cherish the freedom this artist has to express his self through the painting. Revile the fact that he would be declared a heretic and threatened with death if the subject were different or he were in a different culture.

Thank You for not showing it.

I agree with Marcy. It truely is not for us to know when Jesus Christ (my Savior and Lord ) will return, but I do know that He ultimately is in controll. The course this world is on does make us wonder if the end of this world is to be soon. Because of my faith I know that this world will eventually end as we know it and I will live in Heaven eternally with him. It is my prayer and hope that all of you reading this will open your Bibles and come to know Him. Your lives can change and all this argueing about who is right and wrong will start to seem so meaningless. His word teaches that His love lifts us up and helps us survive the good times and the bad. Agree or disagree we are ALL children of GOD. To me personally this picture is tastless and hipocritical. To even insinuate that President Obama suffers or would be willing to suffer for our sins as Jesus did is rediculious.

I'm very saddened by the fact that this wasn't shown at Union Square. I think it says it all. The hero worship and adoration poured upon Obama is really disturbing and this piece shines a huge spotlight on how Obama fans view Obama. It's an important piece and he shouldn't have caved in. I implore the artist to reconsider.

This is sick......

Jesus wore the crown of thorns and was crucified for all these people that are making a mockery of the great sacrifice that He made for everyone. I am so sick of hearing "our rights to express this and that". Can't these so called artist express themselves without making light of our Lord who died for their sins so that they might have eternal life. How dare anyone compare Obama's time in office to what our Lord Jesus Christ suffered. Jesus would never have approved abortion or ask a University to remove all religious symbols for him to make a speech or approve cloning of human beings. There are alot of others that would really be a good comparison but not Jesus.

I am glad that he choose not to show it. It is offensive to many.

Well, they are forgetting one very serious thing. Obama can not be the next messiah because he's not a dinosaur. Jesus was indeed, a raptor. Obama is just a snake. Raptor Jesus went extinct for your sins; obama is just self interested and lame.

On a serious note, this painting is just, dare I say, God awful.

I am still shaken after seeing that portrait yesterday. Had this been a likeness of Allah there would be blood in the streets. People forget how important Christ is to Christians and how deeply offended we would be. The artist may be free to express himself, but at what point does he lose respect for all that is left good in the world? To bestow that level of deity in a man is to stomp on the blood that gives Christians eternal life by Christ's sacrifice. How dare you to belittle that sacrifice? Yes, we are hurt and offended.


Wow what a difference a few centuries makes. Those who oppose are like those who opposed Christ. Were not open to a different point of view and thus shut out the message the Christ was bringing. One of which was "Judge not lest ye be judged." Interesting how those who deem themselves to be self righteous have little ye no compassion for the MEEK = Mankind Extending Extraordinary Kindness to others -- no matter what the religious calling. By the way Christ did not position himself to be a religion -- man chose that avenue with his infinite wisdom to divide one man against another based upon, ironically RELIGION in order to position himself in the role of who is and who isn't going to be saved. ALL are Children of God -- don't ever forget that! In fact, let the first one of you who have not sinned cast the first stone -- I thought so...

I think it's great. Anyone hear of the first amendment? It's his choice not to show it, but I thinks it shows a valid point. It's a shame people are too narrow minded to appeciate something that states valid points on both political sides. People who are offended by it need to get over themselves. If you don't like it, don't go see it, you idiots.............................................................

Then I assume you would not object to a Nativity display at Union Square at Christmas season.

Excuse me, I feel sick. Must puke!!!!!!

I was very upset to even hear of this painting. Do you not remember what happened when a picture of Allah was used disgracefully. We as Christians need to remember that our Lord died on the cross for our sins and does not need to be mocked and ridiculed again in this manner. Shame on any American for letting this type of smear campaign happen

I am very amused by all of the comments that have been written so far. If it was a discussion the artist had in mind, The Los Angeles Times sure opened that portal…wide. Christ, like Obama had very humble beginnings and then his followers took the reigns and ran with them…in many different directions. I love reading statements like, “I’m a Christian and I find this deeply offensive.” Now, I personally know about 100 people who call themselves Christians and not one of them agree with the other’s views…about anything. So, if you claim you are a “Christian” please state your religion (Lutheran, Protestant, Episcopalian, Catholic, Evangelical, Quaker, ad nauseum) in your comments so that we intelligent, thinking humans can sort you guys out. Thank you.

the painting is awful, the artist is a coward for not exhibiting and every animal species on the planet could never fitt on one ship.... religion is a mental illness

Well, we've all seen it, now, so "not revealing" is a mute point. No?

Some don't like it, some do.

Our country was based on religious freedom by those who felt oppressed (and it would seem, the need to oppress others), so looks like not much has changed.



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