Alfred Hrdlicka, 81, an Austrian artist whose controversial works in metal, paint, and pencil alienated as much as attracted the public, died Saturday in Vienna, Austria, the Austrian Press Agency reported.

Mr. Hrdlicka's sculptures, drawings, and paintings are known for their controversial themes. His religious works, in particular, drew protest from believers who considered them blasphemous.

Among his better-known works is a cast-iron sculpture of a prostrate figure covered by barbed wire, Memorial Against War and Fascism. It has been occasionally defaced since it was unveiled in downtown Vienna in 1991.

One of his last exhibitions, "Religion, Flesh, and Power," was held last year in the museum of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. A central work, based on The Last Supper, was ordered removed by Vienna's Cardinal Cristoph Schoenborn after protesters said it depicted Jesus and his apostles as homosexuals.

Mr. Hrdlicka was also sought after as a set designer on opera and theater stages across Europe. - AP