“Miss Kitty” by Paolo Schmidlin

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This sculpture is titled “Miss Kitty” by the artist, Paolo Schmidlin. This artwork depicts former Pope Benedict in full drag. The pope is donning a short blonde wig, lacy stockings, white underwear, an ill-fitted wrap, and a somewhat seductive smile. This sculpture was deemed unacceptable from many Catholic organizations such as the Catholic Anti-Defamation League and was eventually removed from its museum in Milan, Italy. The pressure to remove this sculpture was due to “the theme of the relationship between homosexuality and art.” 

The voice in the original artwork was held by the artist himself, Paolo Schmidlin. Schmidlin had a vision of what he wanted to create and the power was entirely in his hands. He wanted to make a statement (though I’m not exactly sure what it is) through his artwork and that is what he did. Schmidlin himself conjured up the idea to sculpt Pope Benedict and make him into a drag queen. The original artwork was an expression from Schmidlin and Schmidlin alone. Nobody told him what to sculpt and what the message it should send. All the power in making this sculpture was held by Schmidlin. 

Once this sculpture was censored, the power lies within the various Catholic groups that rallied to have it removed. Organizations like the Catholic Anti-Defamation League had the power to influence whether or not this artwork would be showcased. Once the museum that showcased the sculpture felt pressure from the angry organizations, they had no choice but to pull the plug on this artwork. Although it was the museum that ultimately removed the art, the organizations were the puppet masters behind the decisions. The organizations were the ones who spoke out against the artwork and stated that it was not acceptable and it should not be allowed. The organizations held the power in deciding the artwork’s fate. 

When the artist is creating, they have the power and call the shots in how they want their art to be. Once the artist puts that piece out there for the world to see, they are powerless and the power then lies within the critics, in this case, the Catholic organizations. I don’t think the artist and the critic ever switch positions, it’s just a matter of order. In the first order, as the art is being made, the power is with the artist. Once the art is displayed for all to see, the power is with the critics. They are the ones that can judge the art and form opinions. What they have to say can really make or break the artwork. In this case, the Catholic organizations got heated and successfully got the artwork removed. I can’t think of any way that would defy or complicate this relationship. Once Schmidlin released his art, the power is forever out of his hands and into the hands of critics with a voice that can influence others. 

My questions to you guys are as follows: What kind of statement do you think the artist was trying to make with this sculpture? Was it meant to be funny? Serious? Given the brief explanation the organizations presented, the relationship between homosexuality and art, what are other reasons or more in-depth reasons that this artwork caused so much controversy?

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5 thoughts on ““Miss Kitty” by Paolo Schmidlin

  1. I think the artist just wanted to poke fun and thought it was humorous. Schmidlin knew it would get some attention but i don’t think he did it to be serious, i think he did it for pure comedy. It caused so much controversy because in most religions homosexuality is forbidden and to portray a pope has a homo can be offensive to Catholics. But most importantly, catholic priests are seen in the media in a negative light, there have been recent convictions on Catholic priests molesting children especially young boys. So i could see why this caused a huge stir among the organizations and can be a sensitive issue.

  2. I think this particular piece of art was meant to be viewed as a funny image, but I believe that there’s actually a serious meaning behind it. To me, I think the artist’s statement was to criticize the Catholic religion of being too discriminating and unwelcoming of homosexuals. In most cases, strict Catholics are not accepting of homosexuals and I believe that by cross-dressing the Catholic Pope, the artist wanted to give voice to homosexuals, specifically homosexuals in the Catholic church. The artist wanted to make it known that he feels that homosexuality should be accepted by Catholics because despite what most Catholics feel, there are Catholics who are gay, and beyond that, there are gay people in this world that deserve to be recognized as human beings who have the same rights as anyone else in this world and who deserve to be accepted by everyone, Catholics included.

  3. I literally have no idea how someone could think there was any homosexuality in this sculpture. I just don’t see it. Maybe if there was another guy that he was looking at, then I would say its homosexual. what if he is looking at a woman? or an animal? I dont think people should be classifying this as homosexual when it could be so many other things. It looks funny to me, i chuckled when I first saw this picture. I believe the artist was not going for a serious approach when he sculpted this. I’m not surprised that a catholic group would be against this sculpture though. Religious groups are known for wanting to remove things from the public that are “indecent” in their eyes. This sculpture definitely fits the bill because its a creepy guy smiling half naked. Another reason why this sculpture created so much controversy could be because it could be seen as making fun of the pope, which Catholics obviously do not like.

  4. I think the sculpture is suppose to be funny. I can see why this photo is homosexual. I think the artist in a sense is showing that someone as religious as a Pope can be homosexual. A lot of people who are devout Catholic are usually think homosexuality is wrong so the artist trying to show that anyone can be homosexual. I don’t think the museum should have removed the sculpture. I feel like the museum should be able to make its own decision and not fear or be pressured by other organizations. I think artist should be able to express themselves and ideas however they want. On the other hand, religion can be a sensitive topic to many people, and poking fun at it can offend a lot of people. If you don;t like the artwork, you should not look at it. I feel like that is hard for many people to do.

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