WARNING: Some images may offend sensitive viewers and members of the ruling party in SA.
A BLOG LIKE NO OTHER took a virtual surfboard and hit the internet surf in search of the most controversial art pieces of all time. Looking at some of the images which raised havoc years ago, you could be left wondering what all the fuss was about as those images appear pretty tame in today’s context. Others, well…
Kissing Doesn’t Kill (1989), Gran Fury
This billboard went up in New York, Washington DC and Chicago. Gran Fury’s intention was to draw attention to the plight of people living with HIV/AIDS but he got a load of fury from city officials who found the depiction of same-sex couples demeaning to the objectives of the awareness initiative.
La Maja Desnuda (1797-1800), Francisco Goya
Authorities were so offended by this painting by Spanish painter Francisco Goya that he had to do another version with the subject clothed. Up until this painting, it was common practice not to show pubic hairs on nudes.
Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), Pablo Picasso
Young Picasso painted five nude women with distorted facial features and sharp lines instead of feminine curves. Many in the art community were not impressed and thought the painting was immoral. The fact that two of his subjects appeared African did little to alleviate the controversy.
Self-Portrait (1500), Albrecht Durer
Even today, the public feels some kind of way when artists portray themselves in any manner that parallels them to a deity. Albrecht Durer’s portrait, on the face of it, is enchantingly smooth, intense and vivid. However, his pose and demeanour is reminiscent of Christ and back in his days, this was blatantly blasphemous.
The Guitar Lesson(1934), Balthasar Klossowski de Rola
Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, also known as Balthus, often produced paintings with young girls in sexually charged positions. The Guitar Lesson was the highlight of his first exhibition when he was 26 years old. A host of other artists, including Pablo Picasso, were excited about Balthus and followed his career closely despite its controversial nature.
The Spear (2010), Brett Murray
This painting was vandalised at an exhibition two years after it was completed by South African artist, Brett Murray. It depicts the country’s Number 1 with his goods out and about. It was a thorn in the ruling party’s side for a long time and the saga provided valuable content for satire comedians the world over.