Naked chocolate Jesus rises again in New York

NEW YORK Wed Oct 17, 2007 11:58am EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A life-size chocolate sculpture of a naked Jesus will finally be displayed in New York starting in late October, seven months after an outcry by Roman Catholics forced a different gallery to cancel its exhibition.

The chocolate Jesus will be joined by sculptures of several fully clothed saints, but the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said it will not protest because, unlike before, there are no plans to put the "anatomically correct" Jesus in public view during Holy Week.

The Proposition gallery in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood will present "Chocolate Saints ... Sweet Jesus," an exhibition timed to coincide with All Saints' Day on November 1. The show will run October 27 to November 24.

Back in March, the chocolate Jesus by artist Cosimo Cavallaro was to be exhibited in a street-level window of the Roger Smith Lab Gallery in Midtown Manhattan, giving casual passers-by a view of Jesus's private parts.

Protests, including a call to boycott the affiliated Roger Smith Hotel, forced the gallery to scrap the showing.

"We still don't approve but the conditions have changed," said Kiera McCaffrey, spokeswoman for the Catholic organization.

The new exhibition will take place indoors in a neighborhood full of art galleries, she said.

Images on the Proposition gallery's Web site (here) show the work suspended in air, depicting Jesus as if on the cross.

A gallery statement said Cavallaro was raised as a Catholic altar boy and questioned church precepts but always held a fondness for Holy Communion.

"Remembering the mystical/transcendental quality and rushes of memory associated with the Catholic wafer received during Holy Communion, he recalls equating that ritual of ecstasy to his own experience of chocolate," the statement said.

The flap recalled another New York clash between art and religion. In 1999, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani tried to withdraw a grant from the Brooklyn Museum of Art over a painting depicting the Virgin Mary as a black woman splattered with elephant dung and adorned with cut-outs from pornographic magazines.

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