Controversial art

Controversial artworks are created either purposely, made to court controversy or unintentionally, provoking the audience, all thanks to their perceived blasphemy, offensiveness, lewd language, or obscene depiction. It is evident throughout the entire history of art.

Controversial artworks cut across the whole media gamut, as they can be seen in early paintings, architectural designs, and even engravings. You will find controversial performance art, installation art, sculptures, and photography, as well as conceptual and avant-garde art.

Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment (circa 1536-1541) and Gustave Courbet’s Origin of the World (1866) are perhaps the most notable controversial art pieces.

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Wim Delvoye’s stained glass windows – Morbid & spooky

Wim Delvoye – Stained glass Belgian artist Wim Delvoye has always had a proclivity for employing the shock factor in his works. Known and designated as a confrontational and revolutionary artist, his works celebrate the paradox. The artist builds on the Belgian surrealist tradition of combining superficially unrelated components and engaging assorted provoking abstract themes …

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Why is there a statue of Shiva the Destroyer at CERN?

If you have been keeping up with the happenings of the CERN, the world’s most advanced scientific research facility, you might have noticed the statue of Shiva the Destroyer. Shiva, the cosmic dancer, symbolizes the natural flow of divine energy. He takes part in Rudra Tandava – a dance representing destruction and rebirth- to …

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African Renaissance Monument, 2010, bronze, 49 meter (161 feet), Ouakam suburb, Dakar, Senegal feat

The African Renaissance Monument – Africa’s most controversial statue

This 49 meters tall bronze statue is located on top of the Collines des Mamelles – one of the twin hills – in the Senegalese capital Dakar. It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean just outside the city in the Ouakam neighborhood. The African Renaissance Monument was designed by renowned Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby Atepa following …

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Jennifer Rubell - Ivanka Vacuuming, 2019, performance, Flashpoint Gallery, Washington D.C. feat

Ivanka vacuuming & Why throwing her crumbs makes you feel powerful

Live art is not common, yet it is the only form of expression that would bring out a real-life perception. Ivanka Vacuuming is one of such artworks, created by an American artist Jennifer Rubell. In the live-streamed performance, a model look-alike of Ivanka Trump is recorded vacuuming crumbs from a carpet. The art piece, …

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Why was Sally Mann’s Immediate Family so controversial?

Immediate Family is a photography book produced in 1992 by Sally Mann. The groundbreaking and controversial book was published by the international quarterly journal Aperture and is made of 65 duotone portraits. The book features exclusively Mann’s three children, Virginia, Jessie, and Emmett, who are also on the book’s front cover. Thirteen of the …

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Huang Yong Ping – Theater of the World, 1987:1993 feat

Huang Yong Ping’s controversial Theater of the World

Who was Huang Yong Ping Huang Yong Ping was a contemporary artist, born and raised in Xiamen, China. In the last decades, he has created numerous contentious and confrontational artworks. Huang is known as one of the most influential Chinese contemporary artists. His artworks include sculptures, installations, and paintings. He was an icon in the …

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Why was Tracey Emin’s bed a shock to the audience?

Tracey Emin’s work has always been shrouded in revelation and discovery, where she uses her real-life events as the inspiration for her works. So far, her art has become varied to include video installations, paintings, drawings, neon sculptures, photography, and even needlework. Emin’s work is characterized by an imminence and frequently sexually challenging boldness …

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Richard Serra - House of Cards, 1969_1978. Lead antimony. Fisher Collection. SFMOMA, 2016 feat

Richard Serra’s One Ton Prop (House of Cards) – The summation of his work

Richard Serra has undeniably consolidated his career in contemporary art through his many controversial works including his now well known installation One Top Prop. Most Richard Serra exhibitions have elicited debates and discussions. In some cases, visitors have even sustained injuries, and there have even been some incidences of death recorded. This sculpture killed …

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Banned: Sun Yuan & Peng Yu’s controversial dogs video

The video work titled Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other has only recently been removed from Guggenheim Museum’s exhibition series known as Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World. The video series has been met with disapproval and disparagement not only by some art critics but animal lovers and welfare organizations as …

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What made Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc sculpture so controversial?

Embed from Getty Images Who is Richard Serra? Richard Serra is a leading sculptor who is known for creating minimalist artwork. While he began his career after studying fine arts at Yale University, he created the sculpture Tilted Arc in 1981 in New York after celebrating his fortieth birthday. By this time, he was already …

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Maurizio Cattelan’s Hitler sculpture – World’s worst criminal regrets his sins

Adolf Hitler on his knees How much penance do the atrocities that Adolf Hitler committed in his lifetime require to be forgiven? This is perhaps the question which Maurizio Cattelan wanted to arouse in his audience when he drew a picture of the fascist leader in a kneeling position. There is nothing wrong with someone …

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