The 10 Most Controversial Artworks That Changed History

The most controversial works of art that changed art history:

1.Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, 2007

For the Love of God 2007 is a life-size platinum cast of an 18th century human skull, covered in 8,601 flawless diamonds, inset with the original skull’s teeth. At the front of the skull is a 52.4 carat pink diamond. Since it was first exhibited in 2007, For the Love of God it has become one of the most recognized works of contemporary art. It represents the artist’s continuing interest in mortality and notions of value.

This work of art was very controversial and generated many controversies, due to its enormous cost and use of a part of the human body.

2. Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937

Picasso painted Guernica at his home in Paris in response to the April 26, 1937 bombing of Guernica, a city in the Basque Country in northern Spain that was bombed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy at the request of Spanish nationalists. Upon completion, Guernica was exhibited in the Spanish exhibit at the 1937 Paris International Exposition, and later in other locations around the world. The traveling exhibit was used to raise funds for Spanish war relief. The painting soon became famous and widely acclaimed, and helped draw world attention to the Spanish Civil War.

Already in 1968, Franco had expressed his interest in having Guernica reach Spain. However, Picasso refused to allow this until the Spanish people once again enjoyed a republic. Later he added other conditions, such as the restoration of “public liberties and democratic institutions.”

3. Marcel Duchamp – Fountain, 1917

Explaining the purpose of his Readymade sculpture, Duchamp stated that they are “everyday objects elevated to the dignity of a work of art by the act of the artist’s choice.” In Duchamp’s presentation, the orientation of the urinal was altered from its usual position. The work is considered by art historians and avant-garde theorists as an important milestone in 20th century art.

To understand how Duchamp managed to outdo the art world, it is necessary to go back to the moment when the libelous sculpture arrived for consideration at the newly formed Society of Independent Artists in New York in the spring of 1917, ahead of an exhibition opening on April 10. As a founding member of the association, Duchamp had helped shape and articulate the organization’s avant-garde ideology, including its commitment to never reject a work submitted by one of its members. To test the sincerity and soundness of those principles, Duchamp entered the urinal under an assumed artistic identity – ‘R Mutt’ – knowing full well that the provocative piece would leave his fellow society members scrambling for his next move.

Duchamp then watched with disappointment, if not surprise, as the question of whether to exhibit the piece was put to a vote, in a hypocritical violation, he believed, of society’s widely publicized open-mindedness. When Fountain was rejected by her peers on the grounds of crude aesthetics, Duchamp found her consciousness suddenly cornered. With no other possible move, he resigned.

4. Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962

When first exhibited, the artist’s use of printing techniques, his choice of style, and the commercial subject matter of the artwork placed it at the center of discussions about ethics and its validity as a work of art, since that his depiction of mundane commercial products was a direct affront to Abstract Expressionism. These controversies helped promote Andy Warhol, making him the world’s best-known pop artist.

5. Andres Serrano, Piss Christ, 1987

Immersion (Piss Christ) is a 1987 photograph by American artist and photographer Andres Serrano. It represents a small plastic crucifix submerged in a small glass tank with the artist’s urine.

The work generated a great deal of controversy based on claims that it was blasphemy. Serrano himself said of the controversy: “I had no idea that Piss Christ would get the attention that she did, as she did not mean to blaspheme or offend. I have been a Catholic all my life, so I am a follower of Christ.”

6. Guerilla Girls, Do Women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?, 1989

Since their creation in 1984, the Guerrilla Girls have been working to expose sexual and racial discrimination in the art world, particularly in New York, and in the broader cultural arena. Members of the group protect their identities by wearing gorilla masks in public and assuming pseudonyms taken from deceased famous female figures such as writer Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) and artist Frida Kahlo (1907-54).

In 1985, the Guerrilla Girls, calling themselves the “conscience of the art world,” began a poster campaign targeting museums, dealers, curators, critics, and artists who felt they were actively responsible for or complicit in the exclusion of women and the people who were not. white artists from major exhibitions and publications.

7. Ai Weiwei, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995

Artist, thinker and activist Ai Weiwei was born in Beijing in 1957 and grew up in difficult circumstances. His father, the poet Ai Qing, was persecuted by the Chinese communist government and exiled to a province in the far west. He later became acclaimed as a great national poet after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. In 1981, Ai moved to New York, where he studied visual arts and began working as an artist. He also developed a deep appreciation of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades—everyday objects elevated to the status of art—and his implicit critique of cultural value systems. In 1993, upon learning that his father was ill, he returned to China.

One of Ai’s most famous pieces, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995), incorporates what Ai has called a “cultural readymade.” The artwork captures Ai as he drops a 2,000-year-old ceremonial urn, allowing it to crash to the ground at his feet. This artifact not only had considerable value, it also had symbolic and cultural value. The Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) is considered a defining period in the history of Chinese civilization, and deliberately breaking an iconic shape from that era is tantamount to ridding an entire heritage of cultural significance about China. . [2] With this work, Ai began his continued use of ready-made antique objects, demonstrating his questioning attitude towards how and by whom cultural values ​​are created.

Some were outraged by this work, calling it an act of desecration. Ai responded by saying, “Chairman Mao used to tell us that we can only build a new world if we destroy the old one.” This statement refers to the widespread destruction of antiquities during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and the instruction that in order to build a new society one must destroy the si jiu (Four Old Ones): old customs, habits, culture, and ideas. . By letting go of the urn, Ai lets go of the social and cultural structures that impart value.

8.  Tracy Emin, My Bed, 1998

My Bed is a work by the English artist Tracey Emin.

The idea for My Bed was inspired by a sexual but depressive phase in the artist’s life when she remained in bed for four days without eating or drinking anything other than alcohol. When she looked at the vile and repulsive mess that had accumulated in her room, she suddenly realized what she had created. Emin ardently defended My Bed against critics who treated it as a farce and claimed that anyone could display an unmade bed. To these claims, the artist responded: “Well, they didn’t, did they? No one had ever done that before.”

9.  Jackson Pollock, Blue Poles or Number 11, 1952

Blue Poles, also known as Number 11, 1952 is an abstract expressionist painting by American artist Jackson Pollock. It was purchased amid controversy by the National Gallery of Australia in 1973 and remains one of the gallery’s most important paintings today.

The acquisition of Blue Poles, however, sparked a great deal of controversy in Australia when people protested against the high price paid for it; in fact, it was the highest price paid for an American painting at the time. Taxpayers complained that it was a waste of money and, with few exceptions, responses towards the painting, the National Gallery and the government were negative. Headlines like A Pollock Sold for $2 Million, Record for American Painting, and Would You Pay $1.3 Million? for this? they dominated newspapers and magazines.

10.  Edouard Manet, Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe, 1863

This astonishing composition introduced an entirely new pictorial approach, spanning the genres of portraiture, landscape, and still life in a single painting. That is, it features a nude woman at a picnic with two fully clothed men in a rural setting and a sunbather in the background. Manet produced this controversial work between 1862 and 1863 and it was rejected by the notorious jury at the Paris Salon, so the artist exhibited it at the Salon des Refuses.

The painting made a huge impact after it was first exhibited and was considered indecent and vulgar, although Manet’s contemporary and established writer and critic Emile Zola defended the work.