25 Worst Examples Of Modern Art

Posted by , Updated on January 10, 2024

Art used to be objective. Meaning, if little time, effort, or discipline was applied to the craft and final product, people had the ability to say “That’s rubbish, try again.” Art was commissioned by the Church to inspire people to Holiness with it’s beauty. Starting around the turn of the 20th century with the impressionist movement though, art went from being objective to subjective, and now a “artist” can poop in a can, sell it, and it’s art. If you say “That’s terrible,” you are the dunce. Modern art is not made to be appreciated by the layman. Now sure what we mean? Here are 25 Worst Examples Of Modern Art.


NYC Garbage cubes are...acrylic cubes, filled with trash from the Big Apple. They're considered pieces of modern art. They sell for $50 to $100.

OrigCubes1_arrowSource: http://www.oddee.com

Emma Skulkowitz, infamously known as "Mattress girl," dragged her mattress around her college campus as a piece of "performance art" titled "Carry That Weight." She was claiming she was raped on it. Except, she wasn't raped on it. She only started claiming she had been raped months after the incident, conveniently when she needed a piece of performance art for her final thesis. She ruined the life of the man she accused, and makes no apologies for it. Despite being a fraud of the worst kind, and cheapening the pain of actual rape victims, ruining the reputation of a man she sought sex with, and keeping him from his college graduation as the school allowed her to carry her mattress, she's still hailed as a hero and an artist.

Emma_Sulkowicz_Mattress_Performance_19_May_2015_(cropped)Source: https://news.artnet.com

Peinture (Le Chien) by artist Joan Miro sold for over 2 million dollars. While one could argue that Miro studied and disciplined himself and that comes through in some pieces, when you look at some examples of his work, it doesn't scream "Discipline, excellence, demanding of perfection." It screams, well, lazy. To be fair, some of Miro's other works are beautiful and were obviously more..uh..time consuming. But when a small child displays better understanding of color theory and composition, why doesn't anyone start asking questions?

Peinture-Le-Chien-by-Joan-Miro-ppcornSource: http://cavemancircus.com/

When considering that art has fallen far from its once lofty aspirations, once could consider Chris Ofili's "The Holy Virgin Mary," which depicts the Virgin Mary (sort of) composed of elephant dung and pages from pornographic magazines. While some consider this a "Bold Statement" others of us consider it a desperate grab for attention via shock value.

wellthatsupsettingSource: http://www.cnn.com

108" x 70" canvas online $679.00. Pavement Stencils @ WalMart $305.00. Can of blue Spray Paint, also WalMart, $3.68. These things combined by Artist Christopher Wool circa 1955, $5,000,000.00. Perhaps the piece is a commentary on the modern art market. Hmm...

christopher-wchristopher-wool-blue-foolool-blue-foolSource: http://www.christies.com

The Venus de Milo from ancient Greece is arguably one of the most well known sculptures in the world. The small copy of the upper half of the Venus de Milo, made by famous Chinese sculptor Zhu Cheng and students, is kind of crappy. Figuratively and literally...because it's made of panda poop. It's a copy of a great piece of artwork from the ancients, made of poop, that sold for around $45,000. Hey look kids, we're ...devolving...

itsmadeofpandapoopSource: http://www.oddee.com

In 2012, a Swedish "artist" named Carl Michael von Hausswolff was so desperate for attention that he stole ashes of Holocaust victims and made them into a painting. Nothing we can say here really describes how awful and disrespectful that is.

disrespectSource: http://www.newstatesman.com

Artist Martin Creed created an art Installation called Work No. 227. It was a white room where the lights went on and off every five seconds. That was it. It was installed in the MOMA in NYC in 2007. In millions of homes across the world, small children re-enact this installation for their caregivers daily.

work-no-227-the-lights-going-on-and-off-2001Source: http://martincreed.com

Cold Stream by Cy Twombly. It's house paint and crayon on canvas, so it just *looks* like a dirty blackboard someone having a mental breakdown scrawled all over, but it isn't.

cold-streamSource: https://www.moma.org

Yoko Ono - known to most of the world as "That Woman Who Broke Up The Beatles" - is also an artist. And she had an amazing art Installation in London in 2012, called "To The Light." She described it as a commentary about world peace. It was three piles of dirt on the floor. They were slightly different shades of brown. Subjective vs Objective....

YokoOnoSource: http://nypost.com

Felix Gonzalez-Torres was a Cuban-American artist who did installations and sculptures of various materials in a minimalist style. Some were just stacks of printed white paper on the floor of the Tate gallery in London.

felix gonzalez-torresSource: https://www.quora.com/

Jackson Pollock’s No.5 sold in 2005 for 140,000,000.00. Pollock is generally who people think of when they think, "That's not art, you just sneezed paint onto a canvas! I could do that!" and, well, maybe? But you didn't. So no $140 million dollars for you.

no 5 pollockSource: http://www.therichest.com

Damien Hurst puts animals or pieces of animals preserved in formaldehyde (posed as if they're alive) on display and gives them oh so edgy titles. Like the whole sheep titled "Away From The Flock." Possibly because it was dead, and the flock was probably alive. Or possibly because he just wanted to preserve that little leap of lambyness forever. So edgy. Deep. A study found that people only usually look at his pieces for less than five seconds, a significantly shorter time than compared to other more classical artworks.


Joan Miró painted this famous triptych (art work that's divided into 3 parts) in 1968, titled "Painting on White Background for the Cell of a Recluse." People who write and blog about art even admit, "to the untrained eye, Joan Miró’s masterpiece could be mistaken for a slightly cracked wall." Yep.

PaintinwhitebackgroundforthecellofarecluseSource: http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Myra Hindley was a vicious child murderer who along with her partner Ian Brady, sexually assaulted and murdered five children, To this day, the remains of all her victims have not been found. Artist Marcus Harvey thought that making a portrait of her out of children's hand prints would be fitting. Most of us think it's gross. But either way, we're talking about it, so he's got the attention he wanted.

Marcus-Harvey-MyraSource: http://www.popcrunch.com

An art installation at the Musion Gallery in Italy was accidentally thrown away in 2015 because the janitors thought it was just a bunch of trash. The piece was titled, "Where Are We going To Dance Tonight?" and was by artist Goldschmied & Chiari.

WegonnadanceinthetrashSource: https://www.aol.com

Costa Rican artis Guillermo Vargas had an Installation in 2007 tittled “Eres lo que lees,” meaning, “You are what you read.” It was a starving dog changed to the wall with the name of the piece written over the dog's head in dog food. Supposedly the dog was fed and only kept in the gallery for 9 hours a day, but the artist was purposefully ambiguous afterwards about if the dog lived or died. Supposedly the artwork was to make people consider why a starving dog in an art gallery is disturbing and a dog starving on the street is not. Wrong things happening in real life do not make it okay for wrong things to happen as "art." There's also a conversation to be had about a living being's suffering against their will being considered art.

Guillermo Vargas starving dogSource: http://magazine.art21.org/

Artist Terence Koh had an installation in 2007 that was literally gold plated pieces of his own poop. In total, the pieces all sold for $500,000.00. There are arguments to be made about some modern artists, but this guy is literally just gilding crap.

Terence KohSource: http://www.theplaidzebra.com

In 2006, Chilean-born artist Marco Evaristti took liposuction fat from his body and mixed it with beef to make meatballs and make some sort of comment on society's eating habits. And apparently meatballs made with human fat are no less gross than the frozen ones us plebs get from IKEA in a big bag. The artist's meatballs were shown in a gallery before others joined him in eating them. Cannibalism was so *in* that decade, you know?

Uncooked-Ingredient-Raw-Meatballs-Beef-Meat-314386Source: http://uk.reuters.com

Tracey Emin has several well known works. One of them was her bed - complete with used condoms and dirty laundry strewn about it - that sold for almost 4 million USD. Another is titled "Everyone I have ever slept with." It has the names of everyone she's ever slept with, sexually or in a platonic relationship, appliqued on the walls. Do you think her lovers and one night stands were given warning?

everyone-i-have-ever-slept-with-1963-1995-1995Source: http://www.saatchigallery.com

"Cao Fei Rumba 1: Incubator" is a sculpture of two fake chicks glued to the top of a Roomba robot vacuum. You can own one of these limited run of 30 for only $2,600.00.00. No idea if it actually still vacuums though, so there's that...

cao-fei-rumba-1-incubator-for-parkett-99-320x240Source: https://www.moma.org

Onement Vi is a large, admittedly beautiful, blue canvas with a white stripe or "zip" in the middle, a signature of artist Barnett Newman. It sold for over $43,000,000. It's maybe not that beautiful.

onement-vi-1953Source: http://www.oddee.com

Marcel Duchamp Fountain (1917). It's a urinal, laid on it's back. That's it. Oh, it's so deep! Or cheap. A or B.

Fontaine_DuchampSource: http://www.tate.org.uk

Artist Michael Heizer gave the Los Angeles Art Museum a giant rock. The title of the piece was "Levitated Mass" and the point was that you could walk under the rock, which was suspended on concrete. You know, as it is when people build things. Building code! 'tis art. Um, sir? That's nature's art. Used to be that the artist carved the rock into something. And yes, we know, maybe we completely missed the point. Or, just maybe some people missed the reality: It's a rock. The people who were claiming it was novel or breathtaking are the show.

levitated massSource: http://www.latimes.com

While Mark Rothko was a very talented artist who could and did work in several styles of painting, when people say "Rothko," most people think of this kind of thing, which is, admittedly, slightly underwhelming next to a Picasso.


Photo Credits: 25. nycgarbage.com (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 24. Adam Sherman, Emma Sulkowicz, Mattress Performance, 19 May 2015 (cropped)CC BY 4.0, 23. ppcorn.com (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 22. wikiart.org (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 21. curiator.com, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 20. blog.artsome.co, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 19. facepunch.com, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 18. wikiart.org, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 17. wikiart.org, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 16. artobserved.com,  (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 15. Andrew Russeth via flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, 14. Allie_Caulfield via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 13. Jim Linwood via flickrCC BY 2.0, 12. findingpatterns.info, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 11. en.wikipedia.org, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 10. news.artnet.com, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 9. chelsea-burk.blogspot.com, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 8. 99wow.blogspot.com (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 7. Max pixel (public domain), 6. wikiart.org, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 5. artspace.com, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 4. wikiart.org, (fair use: illustrative purposes only; no free sources available), 3. wikimedia commons (public domain), 2. vxla via flickr,  CC BY 2.0, 1. Renaud Camus via flickr,  CC BY 2.0