Controversial artwork Piss Christ vandalised in France

The partially damaged artwork Piss Christ in Avignon, southern France, 18 April 2011 There had been protests against the work the day before the attack

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A controversial photograph of a crucifix bathed in urine has been vandalised at an art museum in southern France, officials said.

The work, Piss Christ, by American artist Andres Serrano, was attacked on Sunday by three vandals who also threatened staff at the museum in Avignon.

A demonstration against the photograph drew some 800 protesters on Saturday.

The work also proved contentious in the US when it was first displayed in 1989.

Protests

Police said two people had attempted to enter the Collection Lambert art museum on Sunday morning with paint spray and a chisel in their jackets.

As a guard was removing the items, a third person took a hammer to the work, according the Associated Press.

The museum said in a statement the vandals physically threatened three guards before fleeing.

A second work, The Church, the torso of a nun with her hands in her lap, was also damaged.

On Saturday, a right-wing group held a protest to denounce the photograph as blasphemous and to call for its removal.

One museum worker told Reuters news agency they had received death threats by phone.

"We're nervous and we have asked for protection from the police," the employee said.

The museum said the exhibition, entitled I Believe In Miracles, would be open as usual on Tuesday with the damaged works on show.

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