Italian sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi is "disappointed" that no one appreciates his modernist sculpture of Pope John Paul II. That's a polite way of noting that everyone seems to loath the thing, which sits at Termini Train Station in Rome. Following its unveiling this week, the Pope statue designed with an open cloak to "embrace the faithful" was abruptly panned by critics. Collectively they deemed it a "strange, green figure" that is "very ugly," bears a passing resemblence to Winston Churchill or Benito Mussolini, and has a tent-like look that could mistaken as a haven for the homeless.
But the worst comment came from the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. Even though the Vatican had initially signed off on an abstract design by Rainaldi, it then proceeded to publish a scathing review by critic Sandro Barbagello. "We find ourselves," he wrote, relayed in English by the Associated Press, "by the in the piazza before a violent gash, like a bomb, that ends up assimilating a cloak that almost looks like a sentry box, topped by a head of a pope which comes off too roundish."
Here's what a full view of the offending 16 foot statue looks like. It's abstract, to be sure, and from our vantage point doesn't exactly recall any specific pope on first glance. Then again, we aren't sure it evokes Mussolini (comparison shot here) or Churchill either: