Serrano in 2005
|Born||August 15, 1950|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Julie Ault (m. 1980, div. unknown) Irina Movmyga (current)|
Andres Serrano (born August 15, 1950) is an American photographer and artist who has become famous through his photos of corpses and his use of feces and bodily fluids in his work, notably his controversial work Piss Christ , a red-tinged photograph of a crucifix submerged in a glass container of what was purported to be the artist's own urine. He is also notable for creating the artwork for the heavy metal band Metallica's Load and Reload albums.
A photographer is a person who makes photographs.
Immersion is a 1987 photograph by the American artist and photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a small glass tank of the artist's urine. The piece was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition, which was sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a United States Government agency that offers support and funding for artistic projects.
A crucifix is an image of Jesus on the cross, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself on the cross is referred to in English as the corpus.
Serrano was born in New York City on August 15, 1950.He is from a half Honduran, half Afro-Cuban background, and was raised a strict Roman Catholic. He studied from 1967 to 1969 at the Brooklyn Museum and Art School, yet is considered to be a self-taught photographer. In December 1980, he married artist Julie Ault. In a 2012 interview, Serrano references Ault as his "first wife" and Irina Movmyga as his current wife. Serrano has said that he is a Christian.
The term Afro-Cuban refers to Cubans who mostly have Native West African ancestry and to historical or cultural elements in Cuba thought to emanate from this community. The term can refer to the combining of native African and other cultural elements found in Cuban society such as race, religion, music, language, the arts and class culture.
The Brooklyn Museum is an art museum located in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. At 560,000 square feet (52,000 m2), the museum is New York City's third largest in physical size and holds an art collection with roughly 1.5 million works.
Julie Ault is an American artist, curator, and editor who was a cofounder of Group Material, a New York-based artists' collaborative that has produced over fifty exhibitions and public projects exploring relationships between politics and aesthetics. She was awarded a MacArthur Fellows Program grant, commonly referred to as a MacArthur Genius Grant, in 2018 in recognition for her achievements "redefining the role of the artwork and the artist by melding artistic, curatorial, archival, editorial, and activist practices into a new form of cultural production."
He worked as an assistant art director at an advertising firm, before creating his first works in 1983.
His work has been exhibited in diverse locations around the world including the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City, World without end (2001), and a retrospective at the Barbican Arts Centre in London, Body and soul (2001).
The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. It is located in New York City at 1047 Amsterdam Avenue between West 110th Street and 113th Street in Manhattan's Morningside Heights neighborhood.
His exhibitions have often inspired angry reactions. On October 5, 2007, his group of photographs called The History of Sex were on display and several were vandalized at an art gallery in Lund, Sweden by people who were believed to be part of a neo-Nazi group.On April 16, 2011, after two weeks of protests and a campaign of hate mail and abusive phone calls to an art gallery displaying his work, orchestrated by groups of French Catholic fundamentalists, approximately a thousand people marched through the streets of Avignon, to protest outside the gallery. On April 17, 2011, two of his works, Piss Christ and The Church, were vandalized. The gallery director plans to reopen the museum with the damaged works on show "so people can see what barbarians can do".
Lund is a city in the southern Swedish province of Scania, across the Øresund from Copenhagen. The town had 91,940 inhabitants out of a municipal total of 121,510 as of 2018. It is the seat of Lund Municipality, Skåne County.
Hate mail is a form of harassment, usually consisting of invective and potentially intimidating or threatening comments towards the recipient. Hate mail often contains exceptionally abusive, foul or otherwise hurtful language.
Avignon is a commune in south-eastern France in the department of Vaucluse on the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 90,194 inhabitants of the city, about 12,000 live in the ancient town centre enclosed by its medieval ramparts.
Serrano usually makes large prints of about 20 by 30 inches (51 by 76 cm). He has shot an array of subject matter including portraits of Klansmen, morgue photos, and pictures of burn victims. He went into the New York City Subway with lights and photographic background paper to portray the bedraggled homeless, as well as producing some rather tender but sometimes decidedly kinky portraits of couples. One of these last shows what Adrian Searle of The Guardian described as "a young couple, she with a strap-on dildo, he with a mildly expectant expression."
The Ku Klux Klan, commonly called the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist hate group. The Klan has existed in three distinct eras at different points in time during the history of the United States. Each has advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white nationalism, anti-immigration and—especially in later iterations—Nordicism and anti-Catholicism. Historically, the Klan used terrorism—both physical assault and murder—against groups or individuals whom they opposed. All three movements have called for the "purification" of American society and all are considered right-wing extremist organizations. In each era, membership was secret and estimates of the total were highly exaggerated by both friends and enemies.
The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, a subsidiary agency of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Opened in 1904, the New York City Subway is one of the world's oldest public transit systems, one of the world's most used metro systems, and the metro system with the most stations. It offers service 24 hours per day on every day of the year, though some routes may operate only part-time.
The Guardian is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as The Manchester Guardian, and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers The Observer and The Guardian Weekly, the Guardian is part of the Guardian Media Group, owned by the Scott Trust. The trust was created in 1936 to "secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity and to safeguard the journalistic freedom and liberal values of the Guardian free from commercial or political interference". The trust was converted into a limited company in 2008, with a constitution written so as to maintain for The Guardian the same protections as were built into the structure of the Scott Trust by its creators. Profits are reinvested in journalism rather than distributed to owners or shareholders.
Many of Serrano's pictures involve bodily fluids in some way—depicting, for example, blood (sometimes menstrual blood), semen (for example, Blood and Semen II (1990)) or human female milk. Within this series are a number of works in which objects are submerged in bodily fluids. Most famous of these is Piss Christ (1987), a photograph of a plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's own urine. This caused great controversy when first exhibited. The work was sold for $277,000 in 1999,which was far beyond the estimated $20,000 – $30,000. Serrano, alongside other artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Barbara DeGenevieve, and Merry Alpern, became a figure whom Senator Jesse Helms, and Senator Alfonse D'Amato, as well as other cultural conservatives, attacked for producing offensive art while others, including The New York Times , defended him in the name of artistic freedom. (See the American "culture wars" of the 1990s).
Serrano's series Objects of Desire, from the early 1990s, features close-ups of firearms, photographed at the Slidell, Louisiana home of artist Blake Nelson Boyd. Included is a shot, against a glowing orange background, down the barrel of a loaded .45 revolver (belonging to Boyd's grandfather) that was used by Jonas Mekas for the cover of the April–May–June 2007 Anthology Film Archives catalog.
Critical reception of Serrano's work has been mixed. In a 1989 New York Times review, critic Michael Brenson responded to Serrano's series of Cibachrome photographs of iconic objects submerged in bodily fluids: "You cannot consider the content of Mr. Serrano's work without considering his attitude toward photography. It is the photograph that breaks through convention, that makes the search possible and that enables the artist to sort out what he likes and does not like in religion and art. It is the photograph that becomes the vessel of transformation and revelation. The photograph then becomes an icon that, for Mr. Serrano, replaces the false icons in his work. The photograph is clean and purified, the reliquary or shrine in which he clearly believes that the word about the body can be stored and spread."Reviewing later work in 2001, Guardian art critic Adrian Searle was not impressed: he found that Serrano's photos were "far more about being lurid than anything else... In the end, the show is all surface, and looking for hidden depths does no good." Continuing his use of biological matter, more recent work of Serrano's uses feces as a medium.
Serrano's work Blood and Semen III is used as the cover of heavy metal band Metallica's album Load , while "Piss and Blood" is used on Reload . Serrano also directed a video for industrial metal group Godflesh, "Crush My Soul".
In 2008, Serrano's piece The Interpretation of Dreams (White Nigger) was selected to participate in The Renaissance Society's group exhibit, "Black Is, Black Ain't".
Serrano adopted the alter ego "Brutus Faust" to create the full-length album Vengeance Is Mine in July 2010. The album contains covers of classic songs from the 1960s, and original compositions including four songs written by Serrano’s wife Irina Movmyga as well as one song co-written by Serrano, Thad DeBrock, and album producer Steve Messina of New York City–based band Blow Up Hollywood. Coinciding with the release of the album are the videos Goo Goo Gaga, Love Letters, and Bad Moon Rising. Goo Goo Gaga consists mostly of black-and-white footage from the 1940s, which makes parallels between the Depression and the present day, with the images of "Brutus" shot by Francesco Carrozzini. Love Letters is footage taken from cult director Joe Sarno’s Flesh and Lace. Bad Moon Rising consists entirely of footage Serrano compiled from several short films by John Santerineross. All of these short films were edited by Vincent V.
In 2013, Serrano made a work of art called Sign of the Times by collecting 200 signs from homeless people in New York City, usually paying $20 for each sign. He described the work as "a testimony to the homeless men and women who roam the streets in search of food and shelter. It's also a chronicle of the times we live in."Over the course of several months, Serrano engaged with over 85 homeless individuals in Manhattan and photographed them for a series called Residents of New York, a site-specific public art exhibition on display from May 19 to June 15, 2014 at the West Fourth Street – Washington Square subway station, on LaGuardia Place (between West 3rd and Bleecker Streets), at Judson Memorial Church, and in phone booths and posters around the city. The installation was produced and developed by More Art, a nonprofit organization based in New York that is dedicated to the development of socially engaged public art projects. Serrano initially photographed homeless individuals in New York in 1990 for a series of studio-style portraits titled Nomads. In Residents of New York, he removed his signature studio elements, focusing instead on personal connectivity and interaction directly on the streets of New York City, where the homeless live.
Occasionally in contemporary art, artists use body fluids as a medium in their art. Examples include:
Helen Chadwick was a British sculptor, photographer and installation artist. In 1987, she became one of the first women artists to be nominated for the Turner Prize. Chadwick was known for "challenging stereotypical perceptions of the body in elegant yet unconventional forms. Her work draws from a range of sources, from myths to science, grappling with a plethora of unconventional, visceral materials that included chocolate, lambs tongues and rotting vegetable matter. Her skilled use of traditional fabrication methods and sophisticated technologies transform these unusual materials into complex installations. Maureen Paley noted that "Helen was always talking about craftsmanship—a constant fount of information". Binary oppositions was a strong theme in Chadwick's work; seductive/repulsive, male/female, organic/man-made. Her combinations "emphasise yet simultaneously dissolve the contrasts between them". Her gender representations forge a sense of ambiguity and a disquieting sexuality blurring the boundaries of ourselves as singular and stable beings."
Body fluids, bodily fluids, or biofluids are liquids within the human body. In lean healthy adult men, the total body water is about 60% (60-67%) of the total body weight; it is usually slightly lower in women. The exact percentage of fluid relative to body weight is inversely proportional to the percentage of body fat. A lean 70 kg man, for example, has about 42 (42-47) liters of water in his body.
André Kertész, born Kertész Andor, was a Hungarian-born photographer known for his groundbreaking contributions to photographic composition and the photo essay. In the early years of his career, his then-unorthodox camera angles and style prevented his work from gaining wider recognition. Kertész never felt that he had gained the worldwide recognition he deserved. Today he is considered one of the seminal figures of photojournalism.
The year 1987 in art involved some significant events and new works.
The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) is a multimedia contemporary art gallery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Roy DeCarava was an African American artist. DeCarava received early critical acclaim for his photography, initially engaging and imaging the lives of African Americans and jazz musicians in the communities where he lived and worked. Over a career that spanned nearly six decades, DeCarava came to be known as a founder in the field of black and white fine art photography, advocating for an approach to the medium based on the core value of an individual, subjective creative sensibility, which was separate and distinct from the "social documentary" style of his predecessors.
John Santerineross is an American artist known for dark, often erotic imagery. In 2006, he had a solo exhibition at KFMK Gallery in New York City that garnered international attention.
Martha Cooper is an American photojournalist born in the 1940s in Baltimore, Maryland. She worked as a staff photographer for the New York Post during the 1970s. She is best known for documenting the New York City graffiti scene of the 1970s and 1980s.
Michael Lavine is a portrait photographer based in New York City. He grew up in Denver, and graduated from Denver's South High School in 1981.
Nick Waplington is a British artist and photographer.
SOHO20 Artists, Inc., known as SOHO20 Gallery, was founded in 1973 by a group of women artists intent on achieving professional excellence in an industry where there was a gross lack of opportunities for women to succeed. SOHO20 was one of the first galleries in Manhattan to showcase the work of an all-woman membership and most of the members joined the organization as emerging artists. These artists were provided with exhibition opportunities that they could not find elsewhere.
Charles Robert Gatewood was a photographer, writer, videographer, artist and educator, who lived and worked in San Francisco, California.
Stux Gallery is a contemporary fine art dealership located on 520 West End Avenue in New York on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Artists represented/exhibited by the gallery have included Doug and Mike Starn, Vik Muniz, Andres Serrano, Dennis Oppenheim, Elaine Sturtevant, Inka Essenhigh, and Orlan.
Light Work is a photography center in Syracuse, New York. The artist-run nonprofit supports photographers through a community-access digital lab facility, residencies, exhibitions, and publications.
Holly Andres is an American photographer and writer based in Portland, Oregon. Andres's work focuses on flamboyant, movie-like scenes which draw inspiration from her experiences as a child. Andres has said that she views her photo subjects as protagonists within a larger narrative. Usually, Andres's photographs take one of two moods: either "dark and mysterious or bright and witty."
Edward G. Leffingwell was an American art critic and curator, affiliated with MoMA/P.S.1 and Art in America and associated with avant-garde art.
Anthony Hernandez is an American photographer who divides his time between Los Angeles, his birthplace, and Idaho. His photography has ranged from street photography to images of the built environment and other remains of civilization, particularly those discarded or abandoned elements that serve as evidence of human presence. He has spent most of his career photographing in Los Angeles and environs. "It is L.A.'s combination of beauty and brutality that has always intrigued Hernandez." His wife is the novelist Judith Freeman.
Blood Cross is one of American photographer Andres Serrano's early religious-themed postmodernist images, released in 1985, two years before the controversial Piss Christ was debuted. This image depicted a plexiglass cross filled with cow's blood; the cross leaked slightly making it appear as though it was bleeding. It was exhibited along with Milk, Blood as part of Serrano's Fluids series.