What's going on France these days, besides making sure that women only wear French-approved clothing? Let's check in on Avignon (onetime home of the pope!), where the infamous "Immersion (Piss Christ)"—depicting an allegedly urine-dipped crucifix—is currently on display:
But on Palm Sunday morning, four people in sunglasses aged between 18 and 25 entered the exhibition just after it opened at 11am. One took a hammer out of his sock and threatened the guards with it. A guard grabbed another man around the waist but within seconds the group managed to take a hammer to the plexiglass screen and slash the photograph with another sharp object, thought to be a screwdriver or ice-pick. They also smashed another work, which showed the hands of a meditating nun.
Yikes! Not that Piss Christ is a stranger to attack: The poor guy was the subject of a great deal of controversy back in the late 1980s, when noted art critic and U.S. Senator Al D'Amato called the piece "trash"; it was vandalized with a hammer by two teenagers in Australia in 1997; and again in 2007 by Swedish neo-Nazis.
This particular vandalism took place a day after a large protest supported by the far-right political party Front National and Civitas, "a lobby group that says it aims to re-Christianize France," and in the larger context of President Nicolas Sarkozy's increasingly right-wing (and anti-Muslim) rhetoric. But, who knows, maybe the French were just mad that we vandalized one of their paintings and felt the need to slash one of ours? (Next time go for Thomas Kinkade, guys.)