1. Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), Dadaism: His piece, “Fountain” (1917), a porcelain urinal, was seen as a challenge to the conventional notion of what art is and provoked a great deal of controversy.
  2. Damien Hirst (1965- ), Young British Artists (YBA): Hirst’s piece “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (1991) featured a shark preserved in formaldehyde and received criticism for its perceived lack of artistic merit.
  3. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Cubism: Picasso’s painting “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907) was considered shocking due to its distortion of the human form and rejection of traditional perspective.
  4. Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), Abstract Expressionism: Pollock’s “drip paintings,” such as “Number 1 (Lavender Mist)” (1950), were seen as chaotic and meaningless by some critics.
  5. Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Realism: Courbet’s painting “The Origin of the World” (1866), a close-up of a woman’s genitals, was considered pornographic and scandalous.
  6. Edvard Munch (1863-1944), Expressionism: Munch’s painting “The Scream” (1893) was seen as disturbing and nihilistic, reflecting the anxieties of modern life.
  7. Francisco Goya (1746-1828), Romanticism: Goya’s “The Third of May 1808” (1814) depicted a Spanish firing squad executing citizens during the Napoleonic Wars, challenging traditional heroic portrayals of war.
  8. Kazimir Malevich (1878-1935), Suprematism: Malevich’s “Black Square” (1915) was criticized for its rejection of representation and perceived emptiness.
  9. Jeff Koons (1955- ), Contemporary Art: Koons’ work, such as his series of sculptures depicting Michael Jackson and his pet monkey, was seen as crass and exploitative.
  10. 10.Caravaggio (1571-1610), Baroque: Caravaggio’s violent and dramatic paintings, such as “Judith Beheading Holofernes” (1599-1602), were criticized for their graphic depictions of violence and lack of decorum.

8 thoughts on “Subjectively Ranking the 10 Most Controversial Artists and their work that enraged the art world – An ‘Isms’ Overview

      1. The French (Napoleonic forces) had laid a siege on Madrid and on the 2nd of May the citizens of Madrid revolted, the ones the French caught they put in front of their firing squads. There cannot be different facts from these.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m not denying what you are saying, I’m simply stating that in my research there are often variations that appear in the reporting of stories and all the historians state those reports as facts. Ive come to accept that history may be factual, but the reporting of it seldom is without bias. To paraphrase both Mark Twain and Albert Einstein: Consider the moral of every story, and question everything.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment… in doing research for a book on art history, I’ve found so many subjective perspectives on what’s what, that every list I’ve compiled has become very amusing and intriguing… this list in particular… some of the pieces can appear in many other lists, including ones that talk about least disruptive artists… it really is all subjective… I believe Marcel Duchamp stated some truth when he suggested that only the artist can define what is art and where it fits into history… everyone else can only see through the lens of their life experiences.


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