The Most Controversial Art Shows of 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s worth noting that it has been exciting year for the art world — and not just for all the “sacrilegious” work that was banned, abducted, and attacked with crowbars. Let’s take a look back at some of the year’s most controversial exhibits and shows, and the tempestuous responses they provoked in critics, visitors and sensitive observers. Granted, not everything in here is as loaded as a portrait of Charles Manson painted by Pogo the Clown aka serial killer John Wayne Gacy, but if next year is anything like this one, the tabloids will never run out of “Outrage!”-related headlines.

The Sacrilegious Jesus Dildo Show


Image credit: Huffington Post

A group contemporary art show at the Cultural Centre of the Philippines received an exorbitant amount of threatening hate mail thanks to a wooden dildo protruding from Christ’s forehead. The dildo was abducted by vandals. The art show was shut down. Artist Mideo Cruz explained that his phallic/Catholic art speaks of “idolatry and the deconstruction of neo-deities” and of the Philippines’ past as a Southeast Asian nation ruled by Spain and conservative Catholic friars for four hundred years. To the Roman Catholic church leaders and President Benigno Aquino II, it was just “offensive.”