December 6, 2009 / 4:27 PM / 9 years ago

"Agitprop" Austrian sculptor Hrdlicka dies at 81

Austrian artist Alfred Hrdlicka listens during the opening of an exhibition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Austria's Anschluss (absorption) by Nazi Germany, in Vienna in this March 10, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

VIENNA (Reuters) - Alfred Hrdlicka, a prominent leftist Austrian sculptor, whose iconoclastic works condemned war and fascism and at times upset religious sensibilities, died on Saturday aged 81, Austrian media said on Sunday.

A cast-iron sculpture of a prone human being covered by barbed wire in downtown Vienna is among the internationally known works by Hrdlicka, an atheist who was also influenced by studies of the mentally ill.

His stark, agitprop oeuvre, featured in many exhibitions at home and abroad and which included paintings and drawings, sought to educate people to confront war, violence and other torments of the world — but sometimes caused a public outcry.

In 2008, Vienna’s Roman Catholic cardinal ordered the removal from St Stephen’s Cathedral of one of his last exhibits entitled “Religion, Flesh and Power,” depicting Jesus and his apostles at the Last Supper as homosexuals at an orgy.

Reporting by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton

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