Photographers You Should Know: Andres Serrano by Eugen Sakhnenko

Having been raised a Roman Catholic, Andres Serrano rose to fame with his work Piss Christ. The large colour photograph showed a small statuette of Christ submerged in Serrano’s urine. Much of his other work explores controversial topics such as death, race, sex, and bodily fluids. Censorship, death threats, and hate mail are all in a day’s work for Andres Serrano.

The Big Deal:  Andres Serrano is a case study in censorship. His work has been criticised as being “shock art” without having any real meaning. His images have been torn off gallery walls, damaged with hammers, and attempts have been made to block his work from being displayed in museums. However, Serrano’s projects constantly explore subjects, which many are curious about but few go near, with great focus and depth. His project America features 112 vivid portraits of American’s from various walks of life. With The Morgue, Serrano spent three months photographing in… a morgue. The images show close-ups of burn and stab victims, those who’ve died from diseases such as AIDS and pneumonia, as well as people who’ve drowned and more. He’s even done a portrait series of members of the KKK.

Life in Brief: Born in New York City in 1950, at the age of 15 Serrano dropped out of high school to study at the Brooklyn Museum and Art School. Several years later Serrano became involved New York’s drug scene and it wasn’t until he was 28 that he was able to leave that world behind. Producing his first recognized images in the mid-80s, Serrano has been a working artist ever since.

Trivia Tidbits: Serrano has recently started releasing music under the pseudonym “Brutus Faust”.

Piss Christ, 1987

 Klansman, 1990
 The Church (Father Frank, Rome), 1991

 The Church (Soeur Yvettell) 1991

 The Objects of Desire (Colt D.A. 45), 1992

 The Interpretation of Dreams (The Death of Superman), 2000

 America (Ken Cox, Set Designer), 2002

 America (Shaun Walker, Neo-Nazi), 2004

Eugen Sakhnenko is a Toronto-based freelance photographer and the co-creator of the Knock Twice blog, which is where a version of this post originally appeared. It's is an online resource to assist and inform budding creative professionals. You can visit Knock Twice here.


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