Since ancient times, a wide array of painters have obtained fame through their impressive works of art. Many of them have created timeless masterpieces that remain close to the hearts of people, even until today. However, some of the most famous painters in history are also known for their offensive paintings, which have become controversial either because of their erotic depictions or their blasphemous impressions. Here is a list of the 25 most offensive paintings ever created in history. What painting has offended you the most?
The Prophet by Cedric Chambers
This painting by Cedric Chambers has sparked controversies because of its depiction of Jesus Christ being carried by Darth Vader, with images of the Twin Towers at the background. This painting was found offensive by at least three parties, including the Roman Catholic Church, the fans of Star Wars and New Yorkers.
Goddess Lakshimi Naked on Shri Gangesh’s Head by MF Hussain
The “Picasso of India” painted this masterpiece which has become one of the most controversial paintings of the modern era. It features nude females in different erotic positions. When it was exhibited, eight criminal complaints against the painter were initially filed.
The Guitar Lesson by Balthasar Klossowski de Rola
In this painting, Polish-French painter De Rola depicted young girls in several erotic positions. It sparked controversies because of its erotic nature, both among older women and young girls. This painting shows an old woman with a young girl on her lap, pulling her genitals like a guitar.
Self-Portrait by Albrecht Durer
This self-portrait was created at a time when northern Europe was already starting to adopt Renaissance art. It became highly controversial because the position of Durer was supposed to be the position of Christ. In this painting, Durer was facing the viewer and has his other hand right at the middle of his chest, as if offering a blessing. This was found blasphemous by the Catholic Church and the public.
Olympia by Edouard Manet
Olympia by Edouard Manet features a female nude as its subject and is said to be reminiscent of the La Maja Desnuda masterpiece of Goya. The self-assured prostitute depicted in this painting is considered a form of vulgarity by many, especially because the nudity is very brightly stressed through the use of light colors.
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Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo Da Vinci
Another painting by Leonardo da Vinci, Virgin of the Rocks currently hangs at the Louvre and has been a major source of controversy since it was introduced. This painting basically depicts the Immaculate Concepcion, which the Roman Catholic Church finds offensive because Mary and Jesus Christ do not have halos.
One Nation Under Socialism by Jon McNaughton
One of the most modern paintings on this list, this painting by Jon McNaughton has been very controversial because it puts U.S. President Barack Obama in a bad light. This painting shows the U.S. president burning the constitution of the United States while pointing at the flame.
The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci
The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most popular paintings in history. Considered his greatest masterpiece, this painting depicts the last supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples and narrates the very moment prior to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus Christ. Up until today, many experts continue to scrutinize this painting.
I is for Idiot by Anurendra Jegadeva
I is for Idiot by Anurendra Jegadeva is among the 26 masterpieces he created under the Middle Aged Middle Classes series. According to the artist, he made this painting to express solidarity with the
people of Iraq. When the painting was unveiled, it was widely criticized because of its Arabic inscription “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”
Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon by Pablo Picasso
Painted by one of the most famous painters in history, Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon is considered among the most offensive and controversial paintings of the modern era. This painting features five women with different poses and relatively distorted or masked looks, representing the Young Ladies of Avignon. It is currently displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Night Watch by Rembrandt
Night Watch by renowned Dutch painter Rembrandt is one of the most offensive paintings ever made in history. Known for his depiction of mundane life in his paintings, Rembrandt incorporated a bit of mystery in this masterpiece as it depicted the gathering of the Musketeers and used dim colors.
Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali
Considered among the best known artists of his time, Salvador Dali created the Persistence of Memory which has been displayed at the New York Museum since 1934. This became one of the most controversial paintings of Dali because it was interpreted with various meanings by observers.
Burial at Ornans by Gustav Courbet
The Burial at Ornans is considered one of the turning points of French Art during the 19th century. It basically portrays a funeral scenario, which was inspired by the funeral of the uncle of Courbet in Ornans. This larger than life representation was considered offensive by the public and many critics because of its intense expression of grief.
Madame X by John Singer
This portrait of Madame X was made to depict the infamous adulterous woman of the French society named Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau. It spurred controversy due to suggestive pose of the subject which was described as self-centered, arrogant, and vulgar. Such flaunting was simply not done by women of social standing. This painting is currently on display in Manhattan, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Death of Marat by Jacques Louis David
This famous and controversial painting was created by Jacques Louis David; a French revolutionary leader. What made this painting so offensive to observers at that time was that it depicted the painter himself dead in his bath tub. This painting is currently exhibited in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Belgium.
The Origin of the World by Gustave Courbet
This bold painting (censored due to graphic material) by Gustave Courbet depicts graphical yet realistic eroticism in an effort to protest against academic paintings and their smooth, idealised nudes.
The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci
One of the most famous paintings in history, this painting by Leonardo Da Vinci has never failed to draw the attention of observers because of its element of mystery. Some argue that the painting that people know now is not the original painting painted by Da Vinci, while some say that Da Vinci intended the subject of this painting to become the epitome of envy.
The Nude Maja by Francisco Goya
This painting was the first installation of Goya’s paintings of naked women, the second being The Clothed Maja. This painting was rejected by Spanish inquisition in 1815 because of its obscenity. To be able to join the exhibition, Goya was asked to redo the painting by turning the naked woman into a clothed woman.
The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins
Painted by Thomas Eakins, The Gross Clinic was first submitted to an exposition but was rejected because of its gruesomeness. This painting became highly controversial because of its odd representation, which involved a sexually vague patient and a mother sitting beside him/her. The painting was also spattered with blood.
The Death of the Virgin by Caravaggio
Another painting by Caravaggio, The Death of the Virgin is one of the most controversial paintings of the 16th century because it used a notorious prostitute as its subject. Also, this painting featured Mary in such a way that she appeared just like anybody else. Roman Catholics found this detestable, considering how they revere Mary.
The Last Judgment by Michelangelo
Currently displayed on the altar of the Sistine Chapel, this painting by Michelangelo sparked controversy and dispute between the supporters of Michelangelo and the Roman Catholic Church. According to the church, the painting’s depiction of nude figures makes it more suitable for public baths than for religious structures like churches.
The Enigma of William Tell by Salvador Dali
This weird, shocking and offensive painting by Salvador Dali is considered one of the most unusual paintings that could ever be exhibited in a museum. This painting depicts Russian communist revolutionary Vladimir Linen so outrageously that event the founder of surrealism himself sought to destroy it.
The Trench Warfare by Otto Dix
Painted by Otto Dix; an artist known for his horrid war paintings, this painting was burned by the Nazis because of its gruesome portrayal of the war.
Sick Bacchus by Caravaggio
Sick Bacchus features as its subject a pale figure with blue lips which closely resembles someone with a sexually transmitted disease called syphilis. By the time Caravaggio painted this, he himself was suffering from the disease because of his multiple partners. Many found this painting offensive because it symbolizes sexual liberation.
Rokeby Venus by Diego Velazquez
Known as the only surviving nude painting of Diego Velasquez, Rokeby was one of the most controversial paintings of the 17th century. This painting features nude content so it was discouraged by the Spanish inquisition.