Serrano has always been seen as a controversial artist in the media, which I think has both positive and negative connotations towards his work. Obviously he gets a lot of publicity and notoriety from the media buzz, but I it can also take his work out of context. I don’t think Serrano is purely trying to shock people and his work has always been made for consumption in a gallery in an artistic context. Anyway I was lucky enough to see Serrano’s most famous photograph ‘Piss Christ’ (shown above) at the Pompadeu centre on my recent Paris trip so he is the first of my featured artists from the trip.
Piss Christ shows a model crucifix suspended in a pool of Serrano’s own urine. Unsurprisingly when it was first exhibited many religious figures deemed it blasphemous but I think the piece has more to do with artistic expression and freedom of speech than deliberately trying to offend people. Serrano himself is a devout christian and has described the piece as an expression of his own beliefs. If you can track it down (I couldn’t) there is a really good BBC documentary we watched at college called Damned in the USA which covers the controversy around Piss Christ and other artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe.
Serrano’s other works follow a similar religious theme, with portraits of members of extreme religious groups (such as ‘The Clansman’ shown below) and staged portraits of bishops attacking naked and bound women. In conclusion if your after a bit of controversy, check out the rest of Serrano’s work.