10 Famous Controversial Art Pieces In History

Added by Edan Barak on Apr 7, 2019

Piss Christ by Andres Serrano

I've mentioned before how religious works of art can often be controversial. Well, would you believe it, Andres Serrano has taken it to new heights - even more so than the last religious-focused piece on this list! The name Piss Christ is enough to turn your stomach, and the piece itself only gets worse. It is made up of a photograph of a plastic crucifix which has been submerged in what appears to be a glass of the artist's urine.

The contents of Piss Christ caused a massive outrage, especially amongst Christian and religious communities. However, the situation was just amplified when it became known that the artist received $20,000 for the work, from the National Endowment for the Arts - which comes straight out of the taxpayers' back pockets. Amidst all the outrage, Serrano received death threats and hate mail with regards to this piece; the controversy surrounding it continues to this very day, despite the fact that it is nearly 30 years old. Can this type of work ever be justified, or does it take 'art' one step too far?


Fountain by Marcel Duchamp

Fountain by Marcel Duchamp is probably one of the earliest examples of what we would nowadays call 'modern art'. In other words, it's an example of art that some people would say isn't really art at all. Quite simply, this piece is made of urinal placed on its side. That's nothing out of the ordinary by today's standards, but bear in mind that it was created in 1917, almost 100 years ago.

At that time, art was still fairly traditional and conservative; the world hadn't seen most of the revolutions and changes that have made society into what it is today. Suddenly, for someone to declare that a urinal was 'art' was completely shocking - more so than we realize. Of course, this piece sparked much debate at the time, leaving its mark in history as one of the most controversial works of art of all time.

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