The controversial work, "Zuerst die Fuesse," (Feet First), by the late German artist Martin Kippenberger is about one metre (three feet) high, shows a bright green frog nailed on a cross, gripping a mug of beer on one side and an egg on the other. It has been causing such a stir in the staunchly Roman Catholic nation that this summer curators at the Museion museum in northeastern Balzano felt compelled to distribute pamphlets describing the work's artistic value.
But the German pope has no sympathy for his late countryman. According to Reuters, the Vatican mailed a letter to one the artwork's biggest opponents in the region, Franz Pahl, who was hospitalized this summer after going on hunger strike to protest the sculpture. Pahl in turn published excerpts of the letter, saying that it "wounds the religious sentiments of so many people who see in the cross the symbol of God's love".
Despite the froggy fuss, the museum board voted on Thursday to display the work for the rest of the exhibition in the name of free expression.
Kippenberger, who died in 1997 aged 44, was a painter, sculptor and photographer.
Several exhibitions of his work have been held posthumously including a show at the Tate Modern in London in 2006.