The most controversial works of art ever exhibited in 2022

Hello everyone, In this article we will talk about Most Controversial works of art never exhibited. The art world is no stranger to sensational projects or performances, sometimes even seeming to thrive there. In these scorching days of summer, when the art world slows down and the tumbleweeds approach Chelsea, we are happy to hear that provocative exhibitions are still happening all over the world. Some artists just can’t help but stir up controversy. Over the past four centuries, many artists have pushed the boundaries of tradition through radical painting techniques, shocking content or, in some cases, the use of offensive materials. Many of the most innovative artists – those who had the greatest impact on art history were seen as radicals in their time, often vilified and criticized for adopting a new perspective.

Throughout history there have been many controversial paintings, sculptures, drawings and more. Controversial art can be divided into several categories. It can be art that bothers or offends people; art that is not considered by many to have artistic value; an art unknown in its time but later recognized as a masterpiece; or art that defies viewers’ expectations in some way. Some works of art are considered controversial because they make political statements and have ties to various political ideologies that are not common. It is nearly impossible to reach a consensus on what exactly makes a work of art “good” or even on how to define exactly what art is. Because of these difficulties, it is not uncommon for works of art to spark controversy.

Here is the list of the most controversial works of art ever exhibited


Marcus Harvey probably knew what would happen when he painted Myra Hindley. As one half of the sadistic Moorish murderers, she is one of the most reviled people who ever lived. After turning a police photograph into a full-scale canvas, Harvey’s painting had to be protected by security guards after other artists bombarded it with ink and eggs. Nevertheless, more than 300,000 people visited the exhibition, making it a huge success.

Death of the Virgin

Caravaggio’s paintings were as outrageous as his lifestyle. A notorious mocker, Caravaggio painted the most sacred subjects with a harsh realism such as the Catholic Church had never seen. The Death of a Virgin was commissioned for a chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Scala in Rome, but rejected for its harsh treatment of the sacred subject. Mary lies lifeless, swollen and neglected, her feet dangling from the edge of her deathbed. Caravaggio humanized his subjects beyond what was generally acceptable in his day, but his blurring of the boundaries between high and low art served as a great model for his contemporaries and for generations to come.


What is art? Duchamp addressed this age-old question as early as 1917, when he took a mass-produced white urinal, signed it with the name “R. Mutt,” and displayed it like any other original work of art. He couldn’t even convince his (supposedly) open-minded colleagues at the Society of Independent Artists in New York to exhibit this “ready-made”, as he called the object (although at their discharge, they did not know the true identity of the mysterious and impetuous R. Mutt). Fontaine, however, changed the art world. Its impact and the notion of the ready-made remained felt well into the 20th century as artists explored the frontiers of artistic expression, particularly through appropriation.


Picasso painted Guernica at his home in Paris in response to the April 26, 1937 bombing of Guernica, a Basque town in northern Spain that was bombed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy at the behest of Spanish nationalists. Once completed, Guernica was exhibited at the Spanish Exposition of the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris, and later in other places around the world. The traveling exhibition served to raise funds for Spanish war relief.

The painting quickly became famous and widely recognized, helping to bring the Spanish Civil War to worldwide attention. As early as 1968, Franco had expressed an interest in bringing Guernica to Spain. Picasso, however, refused to let this happen until the people of Spain had a republic again. Later, he added other conditions, such as the restoration of “public freedoms and democratic institutions”.

The Blessed Virgin Mary

This mixed media painting by Turner Prize winner Chris Ofili depicts a black Virgin Mary surrounded by imagery from blaxploitation films and female genitalia. Moreover, his bare chest was made of elephant dung. Unsurprisingly, when the painting was exhibited in New York in 1999, art critic Rudy Guiliani called it sick and disgusting and tried to sue the Brooklyn Museum to have it removed. Other angry New Yorkers attempted to smear the plexiglass covering by throwing white paint and horse manure at the board.

Piss Christ

Andres Serrano, who like Chris Ofili was also raised Catholic, attempted to express his faith through “Piss Christ,” a photograph depicting a small crucifix of Jesus dipped in, well, piss. He received death threats and restraining orders because of the 1987 work, but it has survived to this day, although a print in France has been damaged beyond repair by Christian protesters.

My bed

Although the bed, as an archetypal object, has served as an indispensable prop in some of the greatest works of Western art – from Titian’s Venus of Urbino to Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, alternately nude Majas and dressed in Goya to the diabolical The Nightmare of Henry Füssli – Public outrage over British artist Tracey Emin’s installation of her disheveled bed for the 1998 Turner Prize exhibition was high and sustained. The crumpled bed, scene of a depressive episode in the artist’s life and surrounded by the material debris of a disheveled psyche, quickly became exposition A of the claim that contemporary art has gone astray. Proponents of the work were surprised that more than 80 years after Duchamp’s urinal a messy bed could cause such a scandal, and wondered if the real objection was that a woman had so brazenly settled down in a men’s museum.


Echoing British artist Damien Hirst’s bold installation, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), in which a howling shark floated in a formaldehyde solution, the Czech artist’s captivating showcase David Černý challenged visitors to see a related sculpture of the toppled Iraqi dictator. Saddam Hussein. For some, the job came too close to victimizing Hussein. Others felt the work was gratuitously graphic. An exhibition of the controversial work scheduled for early 2006 at a museum in Middelkerke, Belgium, was eventually canceled by order of Mayor Michel Landuyt, who feared “that certain sectors of the population would find the work too provocative”.

Campbell’s soup cans

When first exhibited, the printing techniques used by the artist, his choice of style, and the work’s commercial theme sparked debate about ethics and its validity as a work of art, as his depiction of everyday commercial products was a direct affront to Abstract Expressionism. These controversies helped promote Andy Warhol and made him the most well-known pop artist in the world.

Last words

We hope you understand and like this article Controversial works that changed the history of art. Controversial art has a habit of sticking with its audience. Creators of controversial art want to evoke an emotional reaction in their viewers. Regardless of the era, there are always artists who boldly challenge conventional forms of art and depict subjects considered taboo. Western artworks that caused a lot of controversy after their initial release. Amazingly, most of these works are now considered one of the greatest works of art in Western history.

Hope you understand this article, The most controversial works of art ever exhibited.

Christopher S. Washington