The most shocking artworks in art history

Bidtween makes you discover five of the main artworks that caused a scandal in the world of art.



While Facebook has just banned the photo of the Venus of Willendorf, palaeolithic statuette of almost 30 000 years representing a naked and voluptuous feminine figure, Bidtween makes you discover the 5 major artworks that caused a scandal in the world of art.



Art : politically correct ?


Art and argument : a tandem that doesn't only affect contemporary art. Indeed, artists have always, in sculpture or in paintings, tested the limits of ethics and politically correctness. Blasphemous, scandalous or uninteresting, art critics' terms did not fail for centuries to qualify daring artworks. But artistic scandal is an integral part of the creative process : some artworks that used to be considered as shocking are now described as masterpieces...


5 - "Bouquet of Tulips" by Jeff Koons


In fifth position is the most recent and still ongoing polemic : the tulips by Jeff Koons.


Jeff Koons thought he was doing a favour to France by offering this gigantic artwork "Bouquet of Tulips" of 33 tons, 12 metres high and 8 metres wide, that should have been installed soon before the Palais de Tokyo.


Yet, not everyone likes the initiative. In a published column in the newspaper Libération, personalities of the world of culture, artists, politicians, are rising up against this artwork. As in fact, the contemporary artist only gives his idea. The State will have to pay around 3,5 million euros...



4 - "Dirty Corner" by Anish Kapoor


Dirty Corner, the monumental sculpture by the contemporary artist Anish Kapoor is a steel horn with a declared sexual connotation. As it was exhibited at the Château de Versailles in 2015 during the temporary exhibition "Kapoor Versailles", that presents six artworks of the artist, the artwork is vandalised four times ! The installation has been baptised in the press as "queen's vagina", an expression the plastic artist assures he never used, even if he admits its "very sexual" connotation.




3 - The "Fontaine" by Marcel Duchamp


This is not an urinal... The "fontaine" by Marcel Duchamp is one of the most polemical artworks in art history. Indeed, this precursor, is a partisan of the artistic movement Ready Made. Exhibited in another context than its daily use, the object, here the urinal, takes a different meaning to be raised to the rank of art. Revolutionary, this artistic approach is now recognised as a flagship artwork in contemporary art and is exhibited at the Pompidou Centre.



2 - The "Olympia" by Edouard Manet


Painted in 1863 by Edouard Manet, the artwork Olympia was exhibited for the first time at the 1865 Show, creating a significant scandal. The canvas represents a prostitute who seems to come right from an oriental harem and who is about to receive a client announced by a bouquet. Apart from her nudity, the model (Victorine Meurent) shows undeniable insolence and provocation.


"Olympia" draws its inspiration from the Venus of Urbino by Titian. Ignoring the original model, the critique saw in Manet's version the representation of a courtesan. It is true that at the time, nudity is admissible only if it is in an exotic or mythological space. Edouard Manet has obviously been looking for scandal by representing a luxurious prostitute, that is now at the Musée d'Orsay.


1 - "L'origine du monde" by Gustave Courbet


The painting represents the reproductive organ of a naked woman laying down on a bed, with her legs spread through Courbet's realism. The artist never stopped revisiting female nude, sometimes in a pretty libertine style. But with "L'Origine du monde", Gustave Courbet allows himself an audacity that gives the artwork a power of fascination. The anatomic description of a female reproductive organ is not softened by any artifice.


Now exhibited at Orsay, "L'Origine du monde" has a place in the history of modern paintings, without stopping questioning about voyeurism.

Also, read : The best french exhibitions in 2018