Controversial Art

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INVESTIGATE A RANGE OF ARTWORKS THAT HAVE SHOCKED OR CONFRONTED AN AUDIENCE

As values have changed with modern and postmodern thought, artists have set to create more shocking and confronting work to distinguish themselves from the rest. Marcel Duchamp was perhaps the first to push the boundaries with his Fountain, a urinal in an art gallery, which was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th Century by 500 artists and forced his audience to think for themselves. Many artists have followed Duchamp, but have had to go to more and more extreme measures to get noticed, hence Chris Burden's Shoot and so on. If Xiao Yu had have put his dead female fetus head in an artwork forty years ago he would have been arrested immediately. However, it would be silly to suggest that all artists from modernism onward, seek only to shock or disgust their audience. Some, such as Kiki Smith, seek to get people to re-evaluate their stance with the natural world, and whether or not we are doing enough to look after it.

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain in 1917, ( a urinal placed in a gallery at 33 West 57th Street) was set to shock the audience into thinking for itself for once. Duchamp had arrived in America in 1915, and since April 1917, the Government had been pumping out their pro-war, anti-German propaganda. Seeing a fountain in an art gallery was unusual and it got people out of the cycle of sponging whatever the authorities through the newspapers told them. It made people ask why? Moreover, Duchamp challenged the society to re-evaluate what art is, through his work and speech, 'It is necessary to arrive at selecting an object with the idea of not being impressed by this object on the basis of enjoyment of any order. However, it is difficult to select an object that absolutely does not interest you, not only on the day on which you select it, and which does not have any chance of becoming attractive or beautiful and which is neither pleasant to look at nor particularly ugly.'

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