Andres Serrano was a student of the Brooklyn Museum Art School studied sculpture and painting(1967-69) and his professional career started in 1985 and his work is known to be very controversial in the art world. He often uses feces and bodily fluids in his work and has combined them with religious symbols in the past. The most notable piece is the “Piss Christ” created in 1987. The Piss Christ is a picture of a plastic crucifix inside of a container filled with Serrano’s urine. Jesse Helm North Carolina senator believed the piece to be obscene and was upset that tax-payer money was going to grant money for the piece. He was not alone as the piece was attacked with a hammer and screwdriver.
Andres Serrano explained to the Gaurdian,
“The thing about the crucifix itself is that we treat it almost like a fashion accessory. When you see it, you’re not horrified by it at all, but what it represents is the crucifixion of a man and for Christ to have been crucified and laid on the cross for three days where he not only bled to death, he shat himself and he peed himself to death. So if Piss Christ upsets you, maybe it’s a good thing to think about what happened on the cross.”
Serrano believes his representation also shows that the most important part about the crucifixion was that it proved Jesus was man as well as God.
Serrano was confirmed in the Catholic Church at age thirteen which might be a little surprising and believes that the Piss Christ should not be in display in an art gallery. He wants it to be displayed in a church.
No churches have displayed Piss Christ but New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine did exhibit some of his work as part of a Lenten meditation. The work they showed included “The Morgue” which is images of anonymous corpses in close-up faces, limbs, torsos, skeins of charred and semiliquid skin.
People who know Serrano expect this kind of work from him and Serrano knows it He has said before
“I would love to take pictures of children or flowers or kittens or puppies—but they wouldn’t be real ‘Serranos.’ People have their own idea as to what Serranos are.”
Of course, Serrano’s work gets criticized by many groups. In the case of his depiction of the crucifix, the Catholic league did not have an appreciation for the work. The president Bill Donohue told the guardian,
“I would argue that ethics should dictate that you don’t go around gratuitously and intentionally insulting people of faith,” Donohue (president of catholic league since 1993) told the Guardian. “I don’t care whether you’re Muslim or Jewish or Catholic or whatever you might be.”
Donohue is not the only person to have qualms about Serrano’s work but serrano has his own thoughts about how others treat him
“I’m tired of people maligning me and calling me kinds of horrible things and calling me an anti-Christian bigot when it’s far from the truth. I am a Christian. I don’t like being attacked as the devil, or anti-Christ when I’m not. After all these years some people still want to believe that I’m the bad guy,” he says.
Durón, Maximilíano. “A Church of His Own: Andres Serrano on His Provocative ‘Torture’ Series and Keeping the Faith.” ARTnews, 10 Oct. 2017, www.artnews.com/2017/10/02/a-church-of-his-own-andres-serrano-on-his-provocative-torture-series-and-keeping-the-faith/.
Holpuch, Amanda. “Andres Serrano’s Controversial Piss Christ Goes on View in New York.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 28 Sept. 2012,
nepsis101. “Sister Wendy on Piss Christ (Part 6).” YouTube, YouTube, 26 June 2007, www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9pAKdkJh-Y.
Rambuss, Richard. “Sacred Subjects and the Aversive Metaphysical Conceit: Crashaw, Serrano, Ofili.” Elh, vol. 71, no. 2, 2004, pp. 497–530. JSTOR [JSTOR], doi:10.1353/elh.2004.0030.
Souter, Lucy. “Staging Life: Andres Serrano.” Tate, Tate, 12 Nov. 2008, www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/staging-life-andres-serrano.