When an artist says that they are prepared to bleed for their art, most people probably assume that he or she is speaking figuratively. However, as several artists have proved over time, some of them mean it literally – and they do not stop at using blood.
The following examples are just some of the ways in which artists have used their bodily fluids or their bodies in various creative ways.
1. Self – Marc Quinn
Every five years, British artist Marc Quinn draws 4.5 litres of blood from his body over several months. The blood is frozen in a silicone mould sculpted as a current self-portrait, and the finished sculpture is then preserved in a refrigeration unit.
Quinn began the ongoing project during his battle with alcoholism. The likened the need for electricity in preserving the sculpture to his then-dependency on alcohol.
2. Paysage Fautif – Marcel Duchamp
One of the first modern artists to use his own bodily fluid in an artwork was Marcel Duchamp. A cubist, Dadaist, and conceptual artist who was born in 1913, he challenged accepted notions of art at age 25, when he produced his first piece of art using premade materials.
In 1946, long before players could enjoy playing online Bingo for real money, Duchamp painted Paysage Fautif. The French-born artist and chess player never revealed the media he used. However, when the painting went on exhibition for the first time in 1987, it was tested by the FBI, which reported that the painting was seminal fluid on Astralon plastic, with a backing of black satin.
3. Immersion (Piss Christ) – Andres Serano
A work that routinely generates outrage among many Christians, Andres Serano’s Immersion (Piss Christ), is a photograph of a plastic crucifix in a container filled with artist’s urine.
The 1987 work was one of the winners at that’s year’s Awards In The Visual Arts competition, run by the Southeastern Centre For Contemporary Arts. Defending the work against accusations of blasphemy, Serano said that he is a practising Catholic, and that the work was intended to symbolise the modern cheapening of icons of the Christian faith.
4. Nexus Vomitus – Millie Brown
British-born artist Millie Brown is one of the founders of the London-based !WOWOW! collective. A celebrated young artist who has collaborated with the likes of Lady Gaga, Ruth Hogben, and Nick Knight, she is most famous for Nexus Vomitus.
Her unconventional method of painting involves swallowing glasses of coloured water and then vomiting it onto a canvas or, as the case may be, onto Lady Gaga.
5. Polpette al Grasso di Marco – Marco Evaristti
A Chilean-born shock artist who now lives in Denmark, Marco Evaristti previously has used blood and semen in his artworks. He also is notorious for an installation in which he put live goldfish in blenders and asked gallery guests to press the ON buttons.
Almost on part with that was Polpette al Grasso di Marco. The artist has liposuction, mixed his fat with minced beef, and then formed meatballs, which were fried in olive oil and served on agnolotti pasta to guests at a gallery.