November 25, 2010 § Leave a comment
(…) He has received death threats and hate mail and has lost grants on the one hand, and on the other has enjoyed dozens of laudatory articles and a sizeable hike in his prices. Furthermore, the fuss caused by Christian fundamentalists has hardly dimmed Serrano’s fascination with religious iconography. His apartment, nestled in a semi-industrial area near downtown Brooklyn, is full of antique ecclesiastical furniture. It would give the impression of a Mediterranean antechoir were there not also numerous skulls, artworks and other unusual knick-knacks.
The combination of indirect approach to issues, cool conceptual technique and emotionally charged focus on symbols that resonate outside the vocabulary of the art world has been Serrano’s trademark since he began to produce mature work in the early ’80s. In his first pieces, he concentrated largely on reworking Catholic iconography in highly stylized tableaux. Later he moved into more abstract images that also touched on social and religious taboos, using bodily fluids such as milk, menstrual blood and semen. Piss Christ emerged out of a transition between these periods and was originally part of a series in which Serrano photographed several statues, which had varied connotations, immersed in different fluids. Nonetheless, just as the artist has come to stand for the biggest controversy to rock the art world in the ’80s, so has one photograph come to stand for his entire oeuvre. (…)