Hello Kitty Nativity Scene

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Date: 1994

Region: North America

Subject: Religion

Medium: Sculpture


Image is from a hello kitty enthusiast's blog

Artist: Tom Sachs

Confronting Bodies: Barney's Department Store.

Dates of Action: 1994

Location: New York, New York

Description of Artwork: The sculpture Hello Kitty Nativity Scene depicts a traditional nativity scene, however replaces the traditional characters with pop-culture representations. In the piece, the three kings were replaced with Bart Simpson figures and the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus with Hello Kitty dolls.

The Incident: The sculpture was entered into an auction sponsored by Barney's department store in New York City. Hundreds of artists' works were displayed in Barney's front window. After two weeks the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, William Donohue, warned the store to removed the sculpture and contacted the media, accusing the work of blasphemy. Barney's received hundreds of phone calls calling for the piece's removal following the radio announcement.

Results of Incident: Sachs' sculpture was removed from the window display. Barney's Senior Vice President for Creative Services, Simon Doonan, took responsibility for the display, calling it his "error in judgement."

Source: Artistic Freedom Under Attack, 1995