Spanning the Renaissance to the 21st century, this riveting collection of scandalous works shows how the notion of “shocking” art has evolved and explores why and how artists continue to push the public’s visual buttons.
For centuries artists have been pushing the limits of society’s norms, whether in the form of a new technique, subject matter, or message. In the 15th century, a fresco by Masaccio shocked audiences by playing with perspective to depict Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden. Some 500 years later, Diego Rivera featured Lenin at the center of Man at the Crossroads, commissioned by John D. Rockefeller Jr. for the lobby of New York's soon-to-be-completed Rockefeller Center; the mural was destroyed when it was deemed too radical to display. This fascinating volume presents dozens of paintings, prints, photographs, and installations that horrified audiences when they were created. Each example is presented in generous spreads with large color reproductions and an insightful text exploring the artist's intentions and the piece's historical context. Most of these works no longer have the power to shock us, but a number of them still do. Together they offer a thought provoking exploration of the artist’s duty to instigate, inspire, and move audiences toward new ways of thinking.