Throughout the years, there are many pieces of art that have sparked conversation. But, some pieces of art make a bigger impression and cause controversy. Here are five pieces of artwork that have been considered scandalous.
Guernica by Pablo Picasso
This painting by Picasso is mural-sized, at 11 feet 5 inches tall and 25 feet 6 inches wide. The piece of art depicts the 1937 massacre of the Basque village of Guernica. The painting is controversial for political reasons, as it was a stand against the fascist regimes of Spain and Germany at the time. Picasso did not even want the painting displayed in France until peace had been restored to the country.
Fountain by Marcel Duchamp
The high point of the Dada movement, Marcel Duchamp submitted this piece to The Society of Independent Artists and was rejected, even though the rules of the exhibition stipulated all pieces be accepted. The piece was a standard urinal turned on its side, with “R.Mutt” written on it. The piece sparked conversations about what art was and refocused art’s purpose from physical practice to intellectual interpretation.
Myra by Marcus Harvey
Myra Hindley was one part of the duo responsible for the Moors murders. The portrait of her is made up of children’s handprints. When it was displayed at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 1997, protesters threw eggs and ink at the painting. Hindley herself even wrote to organizers of the exhibition, asking them to remove the painting because of the pain it would cause to the families of the victims.
Madame X by John Singer Sargent
Though the painting appears tame compared to plenty of artwork, this piece was the source of big controversy when it was displayed. The painting’s subject, Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau, was an infamous adulterer and her pose and dress offended the French sensibility. It was said that the woman’s pose was vulgar, arrogant and self-centered. The painting originally featured the strap of Gautreau’s dress slipping off her shoulder but was later repainted so the strap was in place.
The Death of Marat by Jacques Louis David
This painting depicts the murder of French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat. Marat was stabbed by Charlotte Corday who felt he was partly responsible for the more radical course the revolution had taken. The painting was viewed as controversial because it depicts Marat as a martyr for the French Revolution.