10 Controversial Pictures

#3. Piss Christ

Andres Serrano is an American photographer who has become notorious for using feces, corpses, and bodily fluids in his work. Serrano was raised in a strict Roman Catholic family and is half Honduran, half Afro-Cuban. In 1987, he created a photograph titled Piss Christ. The image depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine. The photograph was part of a series of pictures that show classical statuettes submerged in various fluids, including milk, blood, and urine. Serrano received $15,000 for the picture, which was provided by the United States sponsored National Endowment for the Arts. In 1989, the image was displayed for the first time and the event caused a massive scandal. People became outraged over the picture and it was alleged that the U.S. government funding of Piss Christ violated separation of church and state. Andres Serrano received death threats over the controversy and lost public grants. He responded by saying that the picture was not intended to denounce religion, but alludes to a perceived commercializing or cheapening of Christian icons in contemporary culture. Supporters of the picture have argued that it is an issue of freedom of speech. On the contrary, others feel it is their duty to destroy the image if displayed in a museum. In 1997, a retrospective of Serrano’s work was featured at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. During the show, two teenagers attacked Piss Christ with a hammer. On April 17, 2011, a print of Piss Christ was vandalized “beyond repair” by Christian protesters while on display in Avignon, France.

Piss Christ