Andres Serrano is American artist and photographer, born in 1950 in New York and grew up as a Roman Catholic. Although death and bodily fluids disgust people in general, but Serrano is recognized for his work depicting corpses and his utilization of feces and urine etc in his work. A highly controversial work was “Piss Christ” – a photo of a crucifix held in a container of glass filled allegedly with the artist’s urine. The piece won the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art award in a visual art competition sponsored by United States Government’s National Endowment for the Arts, since there is no prejudice against the content of work in this organization. The work was at auction for $20,000 to $30,000, however shockingly it sold in 1999 for $277,000! Apart from the acknowledgment that this piece of work received; many a times, Serrano’s work has been a victim of angry reactions from various groups of people.
In 2007, several pieces of work by him were vandalized in Sweden by people who supported neo-Nazism. In 2011, protestors held anti-campaigns and hate mails along with abusive phone calls were received at the gallery that showed Serrano’s work. The protest was organized by fundamentalists from the French Catholic groups in which around 1,000 people participated through the Avigon streets outside the gallery. In the same year, The Church and Piss Christ were two works by Andres Serrano that were damaged.
Cultural conservatives along with Senator Alfonse D’Amato and Senator Jesse Helms attacked Serrano for producing such offensive and unpleasant art. On the other hand The New York Times and some other individuals and organizations defended his work in the name of artistic expression and freedom.
His work with iconography of religion is influenced by his trips to the museum as a young kid where he became fascinated with paintings from the Renaissance time that also touched religion in a symbolic way however much differently than Serrano.
Serrano studied at the Brooklyn Museum and Art School between 1967 and 1969, yet is known to be self taught. He married Julie Ault, an artist, in 1980. He was an assistant director of art at an advertising agency before he began creating his works in 1983.
Work by Andres Serrano has been displayed in many different locations worldwide including the Barbican Arts Centre, London where Body and Soul was shown in 2001. In the same year World without end was exhibited at New York’s Episcopal Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.
His photographic work spreads on 20 x 30 inches prints, a fairly large size. He doesn’t make use of digital technology for manipulation instead has a conventional approach towards photography.
The art world is open to any new creativity and Serrano has been extreme at showing his creativity by using body fluids like semen, menstrual blood, urine and female human milk in his work. Such series of works involve objects sunken in fluids. His most famous works play with beauty and repulsive materials except for the female milk.
Blood and Semen III, is a work by Serrano which was used as a cover for Loud, Metallica’s album and for Re-Load his work Piss and Blood is used.
Serrano has received many awards for his works and also his pieces have been exhibited in many locations around the world, such as in Australia, New York, Sweden, Italy and many more since 1985.