Deadman by Chris Burden

Top 12 Controversial Artworks That Changed Art History

Featured Image: "Deadman" by Chris Burden, 1972

Controversial Artworks:

  1. "The Last Judgement" by Michelangelo, 1541
  2. "Olympia" by Edouard Manet, 1863
  3. "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" by Pablo Picasso, 1907
  4. "Fountain" by Marcel Duchamp, 1917
  5. "The Gross Clinic" by Thomas Eakins, 1875
  6. "Guernica" by Pablo Picasso, 1937
  7. "The Holy Virgin Mary" by Chris Ofili, 1996
  8. "My Bed" by Tracey Emin, 1998
  9. "Piss Christ" by Andres Serrano, 1987
  10. "Meat Joy" by Carolee Schneemann, 1964
  11. "And for Today ... Nothing" by Stuart Brisley, 1972
  12. "Comedian" by Maurizio Cattelan, 2019

Explore our curated selection of contemporary artists from around the globe.

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  1. The Last Judgement (Michelangelo)
    Michelangelo, The Last Judgement, The Sistine Chapel, 1541:
    Michelangelo's depiction of naked human bodies, complete with graphic genitalia, shocked audiences, challenging conventions and leaving a profound impact on art history.

  2. “Olympia” by Édouard Manet
    Edouard Manet, Olympia, 1863:
    Manet's painting of a reclining nude woman surrounded by sexual connotations and an assertive stare challenged societal norms and inspired future generations of artists.

  3. Pablo Picasso Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Paris, June-July 1907
    Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907:
    This proto-cubist masterpiece portraying five nude prostitutes was deemed hideous by some, but it marked a revolutionary moment in art history.

  4. Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991
    Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991:
    Hirst's preserved tiger shark sparked outrage from animal rights groups, challenging notions of art and morality.

  5. Myra, 1995 by Marcus Harvey
    Myra, 1995 by Marcus Harvey:
    Marcus Harvey's giant painting of Myra Hindley, a notorious murderer, led to vandalism and public outrage, while also challenging the boundaries of representation.

  6. Guernica, 1937 by Pablo Picasso
    Guernica, 1937 by Pablo Picasso:
    Picasso's political statement condemning fascism through art sparked controversy during the Spanish Civil War but has since become a symbol of anti-war sentiment.

  7. Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy, 1964
    Carolee Schneemann, Meat Joy, 1964:
    Schneemann's performance featuring nudity and erotic writhing confronted societal stereotypes of women and inspired a wave of feminist artists.

  8. And for today... nothing, 1972  Performance  Gallery House Goethe Institute, London
    Stuart Brisley, And For Today … Nothing, 1972:
    Brisley's performance of lying in a dirty bath with rotting meat and black water challenged the boundaries of art and the fragility of life.

  9. Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party, 1974-9
    Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party, 1974-9:
    This installation featuring vulvar forms on plates honored influential women throughout history, challenging taboos and sparking debate about women's representation in art.

  10. Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998
    Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998:
    Emin's unmade bed, complete with personal items and soiled underwear, divided opinions but sparked discussions about the boundaries of art and artistic expression.

  11. Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996
    Chris Ofili, The Holy Virgin Mary, 1996:
    Ofili's depiction of a black Virgin Mary surrounded by female genitalia and horse dung led to protests, accusations of blasphemy, and discussions about religious art.

  12. Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917
    Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917:
    Duchamp's readymade urinal, signed as "R. Mutt," challenged traditional notions of art, sparking debates about artistic value and the role of art institutions.

View limited edition prints by contemporary artists at Naturalist Gallery.

These controversial artworks have left a lasting impact on the art world, challenging societal norms, questioning the definition of art, and inspiring future generations of artists to push the boundaries of creativity and expression.

Piss Christ by Andres Serrano, 1987

"Piss Christ" by Andres Serrano, 1987

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