London, August 29 : Despite being condemned by Pope Benedict, a sculpture of a crucified frog displayed in the inaugural exhibition of the Bolzano's new modern art museum will continue to be exhibited.
The decision has been taken by the museum's governing committed "by a clear majority".
The sculpture was made by late German artist Martin Kippenberger. It features a lurid green frog nailed to a cross with its tongue hanging out, but holding a foaming tankard of beer in one hand and an egg in the other.
The sculpture was displayed at the new Museion in the centre of this German-speaking city in Italy's far north.
According to the museum curators, it was a self-portrait of the artist "in a state of profound crisis".
Luis Durnwalder, the president of the Bolzano region, pronounced the display of the sculpture "an offence" when the exhibition opened in May.
"(The work) could be felt as a provocation on the part of the population of Alto Adige, 99 per cent of whom are Catholic," the Independent quoted him as saying at the time.
Franz Pahl, president of the regional council, also branded the work "blasphemous".
He revealed that Pope Benedict had written to him to say that the sculpture "injured the feelings of many people who see in the cross the symbol of the love of God and of our salvation which deserves recognition and religious devotion."
Sandro Bondi, the Minister of Culture in the Central Government, said: "(The work) not only wounds the religious feelings of many who see in the cross the symbol of the love of God, but also offends the good sense and feelings of those who do not identify with the symbol."
The museum has removed the four-foot high work from the entrance, but refused to get rid of it.
"The controversy has been exploited by politicians including Mr Pahl for electoral reasons. It's true the pressure was heavy but we are an autonomous museum and we have taken our decision. The work aroused a lot of argument among visitors, many liked it and many disliked it - but the public row was merely political. And it has gone on long enough," said Alois Lageder, the museum's director.