Art has been divisive since people started making it. Even the great masters like Michelangelo and Caravaggio had their fair share of bad press. Some artists also thrive on shocking their audiences, and see shock value as a surefire way to burn themselves into the public”s memory. Regardless of whether people agree or disagree about the controversies, all of these art pieces have cemented themselves into art history on scandal alone.
The idea of the artist shocking the public with a piece of work that”s both troubling and genius isn”t a new one. Debates continue to rage today over what should be accepted as “art” and what should be considered obscene, gross, or even dangerous. Typically, anything pertaining to sex, religion, or politics is treading on dangerous ground. Sometimes, though, the pieces are controversial for just being, well, kind of icky.
The Last Judgment, by Michelangelo
Shoot, by Chris Burden
The Death of the Virgin, by Caravaggio
Self, by Marc Quinn
The Origin of the World, by Gustave Courbet
The Holy Virgin Mary, by Chris Ofili
Portrait of Madame X, by John Singer Sargent
Meat Joy, by Carolee Schneemann
Piss Christ, by Andres Serrano
My Bed, Tracey Emin
Artist”s Sh*t, Piero Manzoni
So what do we think of these? Is it fair to put the Sistine Chapel on a list with a literal can of poo, even if the Sistine Chapel contains a pretty blatant persona insult? Do these pieces get less shocking with time? Who”s to say what is and isn”t art?