Art is something unique and personal, free expression of what you feel and want to communicate. It is often direct way and there are many artists, from the past and present, who express their messages through desecrating and provocative artwork, also taking on an attitude considered contemptuous and outrageous to public opinion.
History has shown us numerous examples of male artists who have shocked the society of their time with controversial art and a new and different vision from what was customary, overturning the rules of the period. From Duchamp to Picasso, Piero Manzoni and contemporary Franko B, the list would be really long. What about women? Here are the most controversial female artists of all time that made people discuss and who have been criticized and who created scandal with their own way of being and with their art form.
In the 1920s, we find one of the most controversial artists of all time, Georgia O’Keeffe, a great nature lover who explored her garden with a magnifying glass, painting flowers in a way like no one before. Her flowers, in beautiful and sensual blooms, soon became known in society for their disconcerting resemblance to female genitalia, causing great disconcert. Until her death the artist always denied wanting to portray female sex organs, nevertheless she became the woman who finally brought the female body out of the shadows, breaking some taboos.
Among the most controversial female artists is Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter and style icon considered extravagant, strong and tormented at the same time, capable of leaving a deep mark in art history. Her existence was marked by pain, unbridled passions and lively feelings, always experienced with great intensity and vigor: from her coexistence with the spina bifida to the serious accident at a young age that forced her to undergo many operations, and her tormented love for Diego Rivera. The painter always expressed her passionate and strong essence in her paintings, extremely original and colorful.
Another controversial female artists is Milo Moiré, a Swiss model and artist who loves to use her body in total nakedness, as demonstrated by some of her performances. The Script System # 1 of 2013, for example, is inspired by the psychological Cognitive Scripts Theory and consists of a performance where the artist travels naked on the tram and subway in Düsseldorf, wearing only glasses, a shoulder bag and high heel shoes, with the names of the garments painted in black on her naked skin on the corresponding parts of the body.
The artist Marina Abramović has always been talked about because of her bold artistic performances that try to test the relationships that arise between the artist and the audience and the contrast between the possibilities of the mind and the limits of the body. One of her most controversial artistic performances ever dates back to 1977 and is titled Imponderabilia. In this performance, the audience is forced to enter the museum by crossing the naked bodies, facing each other, of Abramovic and her partner of the time, artist Ulay, in a very narrow space. In this way, visitors are forced to pass through the bodies sideways and not frontally, having to choose whether to turn their gaze and body towards Marina Abramović or Ulay, thus probing human behavior. She is an artist who still continues to make people talk and attract many visitors.
The Guerrilla Girls
Finally, it’s impossible to talk about controversial female artists without mentioning the Guerrilla Girls! The Guerrilla Girls came to life in 1985, thanks to a group of feminist artists and activists that assumed the names of dead female artists and decided to wear gorilla masks in public in order to make people focus on their messages instead of their identities or physical appearance. Provocative texts, controversial visuals and humor are the ingredients the Gorilla Girls use in the service of feminism and social change.