10 Incredibly Filthy Works of Art

As every artist knows, it’s good to get your hands dirty every once in a while. And there’s something undeniably wonderful about messy, filthy, dig-your-hands-in art, a departure from pristine lines and immaculate form. Recently, The Pace Gallery opened its summer season with “Through the Claw,” a performance piece by Kate Gilmore in which several women decimated a block of clay with their bare hands, getting understandably filthy in the process, and we were inspired to come up with some of our favorite messy artworks for your visceral viewing pleasure. After all, it’s summer. What better time to get a little dirty? Click through to see some of the messiest artworks we’ve ever seen, and let us know which of your favorites we’ve missed in the comments!

Kate Gilmore’s “Through the Claw,” 2011

Recently, The Pace Gallery kicked off its summer show, Soft Machines, with this insane performance piece wherein five women destroyed a block of soft clay with their hands and bodies. It only took them about two and a quarter hours, which considering the photographs, we think is fairly impressive.

Photos by Benjamin Sutton