[This is a localized version of the article originally published at L.A.Times.com]
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 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.