If you're heading down to the Frieze Art Fair this week, you may come across something that shocks, offends and makes you never want to look at canvas ever again - it's not Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen by the way. The art world has a tendency to cause a wee bit of controversy every now and again. Ahead of the annual art festival's opening, we thought we'd take a look at the five pieces of art that have caused most upset throughout history.
1. Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991)
Never one to shy away from controversy, Hirst financed by Charles Saatchi arranged for a Tiger Shark to be caught of the coast of Queensland Australia and shipped over to the UK. Costing some £50,000 to catch and preserve the beast in a giant glass and steal box, he wrote on the on the technical specifications of the painting; Tiger shark, glass, steel, 5% formaldehyde solution, 213 x 518 x 213 cm. Upon its unveiling, in 1992, The Sun called it "£50,000 for fish without chips", art critic Robert Hughes blamed Hirst directly for the art market's "cultural obscenity" and animal rights groups attacked Hirst's use of a living animal for the purpose of art. Needless to say, Hirst sold the shark for millions.
2. Francisco Goya, The Third of May (1808)
Before Goya's painting of a firing squad dispatching unarmed Spanish civilians during the uprisings of the Napoleonic war, artists had a tendency to paint a much more rosy image of life on the frontline. That was all about to change after <The Third of May>. Napolean had sent his brother, Joseph to crush the resistance in Spain - and he duly did, with scenes that didn't look too disimilar to this. As you might imagine, it made a lot of Spanish people very angry to hear of such incidents, and Goya's painting helped fuel that anger even further rallying more people to fight back the French.
3. Théodore Géricault, Raft of the Medusa (c. 1820)
Painters seem to have a habit of picking touchy subjects that people don't really want to talk about. In Gericault's case, it was the sinking of the French naval frigate Medusa of the coast of Mauritania - and subsequent horrors the crew suffered upon a hastily constructed life raft. The French art press described it as a far cry from the "ideal beauty" that was popular at the time. Marie-Philippe Coupin de la Couperie, a French painter and contemporary of Gericault said of it, "The goal of painting is to speak to the soul and the eyes, not to repel."
Pablo Picasso, Guernica (1937)
After the bombing by the Nazis of the town of Guernica at the height of the Spanish Civil War, Pablo was recruited by the Republican government to create a mural of the massacre and use it as a propaganda tool. Pablo reluctantly accepted the commission producing a seven-metre painting depicting the harrowing details of the bombing, which was the first incident in the Civil War that sparked global condemnation. This didn't go down very well in certain circles. When it was presented at the World Fair, it was largely ignored - and the subsequent tour it was sent on to raise funds for the Republican movement didn't generate much interest either. Some years later, while in German occupied Paris, Picasso was picked up by the Gestapo - who weren't fans of the painting either.
Marcel Duchamp, Fountain (1917)
The forefather of modern art bought a bog-standard (no pun intended) urinal from J.L. Mott Iron works in New York, signed it R. Mutt, 1917 and took it along to an exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists. He was told they'd accept any piece of art submitted, but the organisers refused to put it out on show, because, it was believed someone would mistake it for a functioning urinal and try to use it. Unsurprisingly, the urinal was 'lost' shortly after the exhibition ended.