German Artist Investigated for Garden Gnome Sculpture

A garden gnome giving the Nazi salute has landed a German artist in trouble with the authorities in Nuremberg, according to the BBC. Prosecutors are investigating whether the gnome, which went on show in one of the city's galleries, breaks the strict law banning Nazi symbols and gestures.

The Bavarian city is particularly sensitive about the Nazi era because Adolf Hitler used it for big rallies and leading Nazis went on trial there. The artist, Ottmar Hoerl, says his gnomes poke fun at the Nazis.

“I'm astonished that a single garden gnome, in what is for me an obscure gallery in Nuremberg, has unleashed such a public discussion because of an anonymous denunciation by someone,” Hoerl said. The fifty-nine-year-old artist has been president of Nuremberg's Academy of Fine Arts since 2005.

“I didn't put it in the art gallery. Someone must have bought it and put it there. But I don't know what all the fuss is about. With my gnomes I'm highlighting the danger of political opportunism and right-wing ideology. I get the feeling that this gnome has reopened an old wound,” he said.