The Most Controversial Artworks of 2012

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We’re accustomed to criticism of Damien Hirst over his taxidermy work, but the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals came down hard on the artist for his In and Out of Love retrospective at London’s Tate Museum. The controversial flower and fruit room was populated with butterflies, their lives shortened from months to days in captivity. The installation claimed 400 tiny lives a week over the course of five months — a reported 9,000 in total. This brought up questions. Was this a battle of animal rights vs. heartless callousness… or militant activism vs. artistic expression? Is one of world’s most powerful artists intentionally provocative or just a power-drunk jerk? Do butterflies have rights?