Andres Serrano - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Friday, May 16, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Stux Gallery, New York
    Christie's, New York, Post War And Contemporary Art, May 14, 2008, lot 411
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Winston-Salem, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Awards in the Visual Arts 7; then traveled to Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (May 26 – July 17, 1988), Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University Art Gallery (September 11 – October 9, 1998), Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (December 13, 1988 – January 29, 1989) (another example exhibited)
    Warsaw, Centre for Contemporary Art, Ujazdowski Castle, Andres Serrano, (January 17 – February 23, 1994), then traveled to Ljubljana, Moderna Galerija Ljubljana (March 1 – 31, 1994), Bregenz, Magazin 4 Vorarlberger Kunstverein (May 7 – June 19, 1994)
    Philadelphia, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Andres Serrano: Works 1983-93, November 10, 1994 – January 15, 1995, then traveled to New York, The New Museum of Contemporary Art (January 7 – April 9, 1995), Miami, Center for the Fine Arts (May 6 – July 30, 1995), Houston, Contemporary Art Museum (September 30 – November 26, 1995), Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art (December 9, 1995 – February 4, 1996), Malmö, Malmö Konsthall (March 30 – May 19, 1996) (another example exhibited)
    The Netherlands, Groninger Museum, A History of Andres Serrano: A History of Sex, February - May 1997, p. 20 (another example exhibited)
    Los Angeles, Maloney Fine Art, Fire In Her Belly, July 8 – August 24, 2013

  • Literature

    D. Kuspit, "Objects and Bodies: Ten Artists in Search of Interiority," Awards in the Visual Arts, Winston-Salem, p. 13
    R. Johnson, "Storm Over 'Art' Photo of Christ", The New York Post, May 12, 1989, p. 6
    R. Atkins, "Stream of Conscience," The Village Voice, May 30, 1989, vol. 34, no. 22, pp. 87-88 (illustrated)
    P. Finnegan, "Bearing the Cross: An Interview with Andres Serrano," Contemporanea, No. 22, November 1990, pp. 32-35
    G. R. Denson, "John Miller and Andres Serrano. 'Bad Boy' Sublimination", Contemporanea, No. 22, November 1990, pp. 37-41
    E. Heartney, "Andres Serrano: Challenging Complacency," Latin American Art, Winter, 1990, pp. 37-39 (illustrated)
    B. Wallis, Andres Serrano: Body and Soul, New York: Takarajima Books, Inc., 1995 (illustrated)
    A. Serrano, A History of Sex, Milan: Photology, 1998, p. 6 (illustrated)
    U. Grosenick and B. Riemschneider, Art at the Turn of the Millennium, Cologne: Taschen, 1999, p. 461 (illustrated)
    B. Wallis, Art Matters: How the Culture Wars Changed America, New York: New York University Press, 1999, n.p. (illustrated)
    D. Hanson, ed., Andres Serrano: America and other work, Cologne, 2004 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Andres Serrano’s most seminal work to date portrays a monumental crucifix emerging majestically from enveloping fields of velvety blacks, heated reds and warm yellows. While the impressive form hovers solemnly over viewers it is also apparent that it is submerged, a fact indicated by tiny air bubbles that cling to Christ’s body, a quality that affords the photograph a palpable quiet, like that experienced when under water or when alone in a hushed place of worship. As such, the work very successfully recalls the profound power of the imagery which has served to call the masses to concerted prayer for hundreds of years and which has been a primary source of artistic inspiration and creation in the Common Era.

    The work, however, does not exist in an aesthetic vacuum and as such, Piss Christ, is a highly charged and important work which has provoked a wide range of actions and reactions since it was first chosen and exhibited in a travelling show, Awards in the Visual Arts 7, organized by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in North Carolina in 1989. The show was organized by a juried committee including Marcia Tucker, Director of the New Museum, and was partially sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts. Serrano received $15,000 from the NEA for his work. Originating at the Southeastern Center, the show then travelled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Carnegie-Mellon University Art Gallery without dispute.

    When the photograph was shown at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in Richmond, Methodist Minister Reverend Wildmon started a campaign to bring Serrano down. He had started the National Federation for Decency in 1977 (renamed the American Family Association in 1987) and was best known for chastising Pepsi for its sponsorship of Madonna’s Like a Prayer music video in which crosses are burned. By May, 1989, Senator Alphonse D’Amato and Senator Jessie Helms successfully passed a bill limiting the ability of the NEA to support challenging art projects. As Senator D’Amato would proclaim, “I do not propose that Congress ‘censor’ artists. I do propose that Congress put an end to the use of federal funds to support outrageous ‘art’ that is clearly designed to poison our culture.” (As quoted in “It’s the Job of Congress to Define What’s Art,” USA Today, September 1989.)

    By confronting institutional societal values of decency and moral standards, Andres Serrano stands for artistic conviction and freedom of expression. Piss Christ is a primary example of art’s capacity to ignite passionate and frenzied debate about the essentials of artistic expression and to its ability to affect real change, both negative and positive, in society at large. The works is a vital symbol of the power of images to provoke the definition of the avant-garde as that which challenges the viewer’s inherent cultural conventions, thereby revealing an aspect of perception in an uncomfortably bright light.



Piss Christ

cibachrome print, face-mounted to Plexiglas, in artist's stained wood frame
sheet 40 x 27 1/2 in. (101.6 x 69.9 cm.)
frame 45 x 32 1/2 in. (114.3 x 82.6 cm.)

This work is number 4 from an edition of 10.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $112,500

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Day Sale
+1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York 16 May 2014 11am