What makes a work of art controversial? What gives a painting 'shock value'? A realistic painting of the Madonna with Christ done in oil paint is deemed beautiful, but a piece of similar quality and intricacy is deemed worthless by many if it is done in blood. If said piece is done with HIV infected blood (Which some artists have used as a medium) it is deemed horrible or downright blasphemous.
The HIV image would be labeled as 'shock' art by many with an end result of the artist not being taken seriously. Yet the images were both created by artists who share a close level of skill and natural talent. The two artists may even share an equal interest in exploring their artistic potential, process, and method. However, the oil painter will be accepted over the other and the 'loser' will be deemed untalented or unskilled.
Based on this observation, it would seem that the materials alone decided the fate of the painting. Do the materials we use really matter as to how our work should be valued?
Many would say, ""Why use THAT to create a work of art!" when observing the various materials used by artists in the last fifty years alone. Well, why not use IT and everything else? Is it a crime to experiment with materials? Why do so many seem to fear this form of change? After all, the goal of many artists is to learn what works and what does not. To some it is a form of science.
It can be said that such experimentation is the heart and soul of the 'art world'. The art world would become stagnate if artists did not work in new ways to express their vision. If it were not for this spirit of experimentation we would all still be locked in the cell of the academic tradition.
It is my opinion that the more these artists are censored by the public and rejected by their peers, the more the art world will be restricted before everything is said and done. And to think, much of it has to do with the materials these artists use... nothing more.
Why label a painter as a 'shock artist' just because he or she decides to explore the potential of a rarely used medium in order to convey a visual message? Would the same painting be enjoyed by the viewer had it been painted in a traditional manner? Remember, the artist may not wish to shock anyone. Shock may be the furthest thing from his mind. Yet he is labeled because of his choice of medium and his career directive is set in stone based on mere assumptions of what his intentions are.
Think of the 'shock artist' that disgusts you the most. Is the artist Damien Hirst? Perhaps the artist is Tracey Emin? How about Nobuyoshi Araki? Many people find these artists to be 'shocking'. Have you ever bothered to read what the artist has written about his or her work? Does the artist truly mean to shock others... or are you just shocked by the materials that he or she has chosen?
These artists may be representing a clearer image of our reality than any traditional artist. Perhaps that is why their work, and the way they present it by using unorthodox materials, is loathed or feared. Perhaps these works are to 'real' for many of us to deal with.
While you ponder this question think about how our world has changed. Some of your interests would be considered shocking by your great grandparents, true? Does that mean you should stop researching or exploring them? Is your answer "no"? If so, why should these artists stop creating?
Take care, Stay true