Art & Outrage

Art & Outrage
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Provocation, Controversy and the Visual Arts
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John A. Walker
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A detailed survey of the most prominent cases of scandalising art
When art hits the headlines, it is usually because it has caused offence or is perceived by the media to have shock-value. Over the last fifty years many artists have been censored, vilified, accused of blasphemy and obscenity, threatened with violence, prosecuted and even imprisoned. Their work has been trashed by the media and physically attacked by the public.

In Art & Outrage, John A. Walker covers the period from the late 1940s to the 1990s to provide the first detailed survey of the most prominent cases of art that has scandalised. The work of some of Britain’s leading, and less well known, painters and sculptors of the post-war period is considered, such as Richard Hamilton, Bryan Organ, Rachel Whiteread, Reg Butler, Damien Hirst, Jamie Wagg, Barry Flanagan and Antony Gormley. Included are works made famous by the media, such as Carl Andre’s Tate Gallery installation of 120 bricks, Rick Gibson’s foetus earrings, Anthony-Noel Kelly’s cast body-parts sculptures and Marcus Harvey’s portrait of Myra Hindley.

Walker describes how each incident emerged, considers the arguments for and against, and examines how each was concluded. While broadly sympathetic to radical contemporary art, Walker has some residual sympathy for the layperson’s bafflement and antagonism. This is a scholarly yet accessible study of the interface between art, society and mass media which offers an alternative history of post-war British art and attitudes.


1. 1949: Munnings and Modern Art

2. 1951: Gear and Abstraction.

3. 1953: The Cold War Monument that was never Built.

4. 1958: The Strange Case of William Green.

5. 1966: Art and Destruction.

6. 1967: Swingeing London.

7. 1971: The Catfish Controversy.

8. 1972: Modern Sculpture Vandalised to Destruction.

9. 1973: Womanpower Exhibition provokes Strong Reaction.

10. 1974: The Oak Tree that looked like a Glass of Water.

11. 1976: Bricks and Brickbats.

12. 1976: Pole-carrying Performance arouses Derision.

13. 1976: Can Dirty Nappies be Art?

14. 1976: From Shock Art to Shock Rock.

15. 1977: Hayward Annual savaged by Critics and a TV Journalist.

16. 1979: The Arts Council, Censorship and the Lives Exhibition.

17. 1979: Morgan's Wall: the Destruction of a Community Mural.

18. 1980: Performers Jailed for wearing 'Rude' costumes - crocheted penises

19. 1981: Portrait of Lady Di Attacked.

20. 1983-96: The War of Little Sparta.

21. 1983: The Destruction of Polaris.

22. 1984: Rape Picture 'Too Disturbing'.

23. 1984: Attack on 'Porno-Art' in Leeds.

24. 1986-87: Art, Money and the Bank of England.

25. 1986: Erotic or Sexist Art?

26. 1987: The Case of the Foetus Earrings.

27. 1988: Nude Painting deemed too Rude for Royal Eyes.

28. 1992: British Gulf War Painting accused of Anti- Americanism.

29. 1993: The House that was no longer a Home.

30. 1993: Outsiders seek to Outrage the Artworld.

31. 1993: The Artist who adores Little Girls.

32. 1994: Hirst's Lamb Vandalised.

33. 1994: Painting of Rape too brutal for Imperial War Museum.

34. 1994: Child Murder, a Suitable Subject for Art?

35. 1996: Perversity and Pleasure: The Art of Dinos and Jake Chapman.

36. 1996: Punishing a Graffiti Artist.

37. 1997: A 'Sick, Disgusting, Evil, Hideous' portrait of Myra Hindley.

38. 1998: An Angel descends on the North and divides the Community.

39. 1998: Sculptor found Guilty of Stealing Body- parts

Further Reading


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