Although it is up to critics and historians to discuss the technique and artistic merit of each work of art, there are some paintings that over the years still surprise with their impact on public opinion.
From works deemed too obscene, too rude, or too gory to acts of desecration or powerful political statements, here are some of the most controversial works of art ever created.
Kuadros has compiled 5 of the most controversial works in history. Do you agree with the selection? Which would you include?
No. 5 Olympia - Manet
With Olympia , Manet challenged the traditional theme of the female nude, using a strong message. Both the theme and its representation explain the scandal caused by this painting at the Salon of 1865. Although Manet cited numerous iconographic references, such as Titian's Venus of Urbino, Goya's Nude Maja and the theme of the Odalisque with her black slave, among other.
The painting portrays the cold and prosaic reality of a truly contemporary subject, as Venus has become a prostitute, challenging the viewer with her direct gaze.
This desecration of the idealized nude, the very foundation of the academic tradition, provoked a backlash in his day. Critics attacked the "yellow-bellied odalisque" whose modernity was defended by a small group of Manet's contemporaries with Zola at the helm.
In addition to its blatant sexual undertones, critics were disgusted by the realistic presentation of Manet, whose color was compared to "the horror of the morgue" and whose hands and feet were called "dirty" and "wrinkled".
Along with Lunch on the Grass , Olympia is currently in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. While the work has been a highlight of this museum for decades, it continues to inspire new debate and dialogue.
See Olympia by Manet in the Kuadros shop
No. 4 The Last Judgment - Michelangelo
Michelangelo's Last Judgment is located on the wall behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel. His portrayal of the second coming of Christ in "The Last Judgment" generated immediate controversy from the counter-reformation Catholic Church.
Religious officials spoke against the fresco for several reasons, one of which was the style in which Michelangelo painted Jesus without a beard and in the classical style of pagan mythology. But most relevant to the church were the 300 figures in the painting, mostly nude men.
Michelangelo was the subject of much criticism for this painting, because they said that it had created a controversy between art and religion. But in the end, Michelangelo's irrefutable artistic ability came out victorious over all his criticism. The versatility of the genius to paint the human body in different poses is something that connoisseurs of art could not ignore.
Acquire the Last Judgment by Michelangelo in the Kuadros store
No. 3 The Gross Clinic - Thomas Eakins
Recognized as one of the greatest American paintings ever created, this icon of American art was created specifically for the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
In this painting the painter Thomas Eakins was eager to display his talent along with the scientific advances of the Jefferson Medical College located in Philadelphia.
The core of the painting is Dr. Gross, as light and composition conspire to draw attention to the professor running a clinic of five doctors operating on a patient's left thigh.
But its depiction of surgery was considered too graphic, and the painting was rejected by the Philadelphia Exposition, perhaps because the subject matter was too bloody and brutal to display in the art building, while some critics attacked its frighteningly vulgar treatment of the theme and melodrama added.
For Kuadros, Eakins captivates the audience with the reality of the play, the red blood shimmering and staining the surgeon's fingers and scalpel. The open incision is disgusting, but the viewer becomes just another person in the operating room.
Now, a century later, the painting has finally been recognized as one of the greatest works of its time, both for portraying honest details of form, depth, and proportion, as well as for its artistic and scientific merits.
Purchase Dr. Gross's Clinic at the Kuadros Store
No. 2 The Origin of the World - Gustave Courbet
We could point to The Origin of the World (1866) as Gustave Courbet's most controversial work of art.
The subject of the painting is undeniably attractive, featuring a naked woman with her legs spread wide, her genitalia widely displayed. However, thanks to Courbet's great virtuosity and refinement in the use of the color amber, the painting escapes the pornographic scheme.
Gustave regularly painted female nudes, sometimes in a libertine manner. But in this work it was the boldness and directness that gave the painting a special fascination.
While many cite Manet's Olympia (1865) as the most revolutionary nude of the 19th century, in this work Courbet takes the subject into an even more shocking and controversial arena. Its high eroticism distinguishes it from other works.
The Origin of the World, now openly exposed, has taken its place in the history of modern painting. To this day it continues to stir controversy over artistic censorship and voyeurism.
No.1 The Trench - Otto Dix 1920
Otto Dix began working in The Trench while serving on the Eastern and Western Fronts of World War I.
His paintings, particularly Trench Warfare (1920-3), were created in rejection of the growing Nazi campaign that sought to glorify war.
This painting isn't horrific in its surgical precision, it's the senseless violence that takes place on the battlefield and the aggressive brushstrokes that give it a sinister impact.
The best description was published by Walter Schmits in the newspaper Kölnische Zeitung on December 7, 1923: "In the cold and ghostly light of dawn... a trench appears, on which a devastating bombardment has just fallen. The pond shimmers in the depths like poisonous brimstone. The trench fills with hideously mutilated bodies and human fragments. From cracked skulls, brains sprout like thick red pimples; torn limbs, intestines, fragments of uniforms, form artillery shells... a vile heap. .. Remains of half-fallen bodies, which were probably buried in the trench walls out of necessity and exposed by the explosive shells, mixed with the fresh, blood-covered corpses, impaled on stakes."
This work created during Nazi Germany was highly controversial. As many as 200 of Dix's works are believed to have been confiscated and destroyed by the Nazis, leaving little evidence of the painter's astonishing artistic career.
Kuadros, a famous painting on his wall.