6 Best Shenanigans Passed Off As Art

What is art? While its essence and boundaries are hard to encompass, Webster's defines it as "Stuff made with paint and clay and shit. Sometimes it's dancing around too or doing something kinda queer." This vagueness has allowed for all manners of oddities to be stamped as art and sold at exorbitant prices.

Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the gullible schmuck with too much cash. However, this flexibility has allowed far too many "artists" to abandon enriching the zeitgeist in favor of being a smartass at art's expense.

#6. Marcel DuChamp's "Fountain"

What the Hell is That?

You are in the presence of greatness. In 2004, 500 British art world professionals, all clad in berets, selected Fountain as the most influential artwork of the 20th century. It was emblematic of the entire Dada movement and has since inspired independent thinkers everywhere to buy matching uniforms at Hot Topic and brag online about how O.G. their atheism is. The masterwork that sparked all of this is a urinal rotated 90 degrees from its functional position and signed with the pseudonym "R. Mutt."

Why We're Calling 'Shenanigans'

We get that the Dada folks loved the anti-rational, but everybody knows the fundamental underpinning of any work of art is a firm understanding of plumbing. Even with adequate water flow restored to this appliance, it would merely pool, leech up residual mystery crusts, and drain into the back. It would in no way function as a fountain.

Okay, so maybe that's the point, that they're calling it "Fountain" and it's not one. Of course that overlooks the fact that most everything in the known universe that doesn't have a urinal cake in it is also not a fountain. A brick or a wad of tissue would have actually been more poignant entitled "Fountain" respectively. Hell, you can stick that title on that video of a monkey peeing into its own mouth and you'd have ramped up the irony to award-winning levels.

Regardless, Duchamp, awash in the heady daze of knowing he could sell anything with his dazzling French accent, tipped over the nearest slab of porcelain and called it Le Art. More specifically, shenanigart.

#5. Serrano Andres' "Piss Christ"

What the Hell is That?

Religion has always been a hotbed topic for art and the forms of expressions around it are accordingly inflammatory. For years, attempts at artistic blasphemy played out like a round of Name That Tune.

"I can denigrate that messiah in a triptych"

" ... I can denigrate that messiah in two erotically posed statues."

"I can ... denigrate that messiah ... in one photograph."

"Smear that deity."

Many have opted for subtle jabs, others for outright defamation, but Serrano Andres' stab at it stands out as being the most fratboyish. What you're witnessing is a small plastic crucifix submerged in the artist's urine, as captured by photograph.

Why We're Calling 'Shenanigans'

Probably more striking than anything is the undeniable shoddiness of the photograph. It looks more like Christ captured in amber, a notion that has Michael Crichton creaming his jeans over the potential for a Jurassic Jesus trilogy. We don't know what creative lighting was employed to give the effect Serrano created, but we can say that the coloration indicates that he should probably be seeing his urologist about his failing kidneys pronto. The Lord acts in mysterious ways.

Submerging a crucifix in urine sounds more like a preamble to a stunt on Jackass than it does art. You can practically hear Serrano goading Johnny Knoxville in the background to "Drink the Jesus Piss, dude! C'mon! Drink it, pussy!"

Still, peeing on the son of God is pretty ballsy--perhaps Serrano had rich artistic intentions? Or not. Consider that Serrano received $15,000 from of the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts for the work as well. This saucy bastard made a quick fortune sponsored by an overwhelmingly Christian tax base to dunk a crucifix in his piss, a process that probably cost him $5 to develop at a Fotomat kiosk. It was such a tremendous payday that he even went on to produce Madonna and Child II, in which the subject is likewise submerged in urine. Mysteriously, the motif had managed to play itself out already.

#4. Damien Hirst's "For the Love of God"

What the Hell is That?

For the Love of God is a sculpture by British artist Damien Hirst. It is referred to as a sculpture, but is more accurately a blinged-out form of decoupage. It is a cast of an actual human skull, which he purchased at Gothmart* in Islington. The cast is composed entirely of platinum apart from the unadorned teeth, a motif that prominent art critic Lil' Jon described as "Tragically uncrunk."

It was further encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamonds, including a pear-shaped pink diamond located in the forehead, obviously because a solid platinum human skull just wasn't flashy enough. Damien ensured that they were ethically sourced diamonds because he wanted to have a clear conscience when he sold the whole affair for £50 million (nearly $100 million).

To date, this is the highest price ever paid for a single work by a living artist.

Why We're Calling 'Shenanigans'

The name of this piece seems a non-sequitur, not that bedazzled platinum skull needs a rational name. It was supposedly inspired by his mother who once asked, "For the love of God, what are you going to do next?" That should give you some frame of reference for his artistic M.O. Not convinced? We're talking about a guy who got away with basically hanging a piece of spin-art in a gallery show:

He titled it "Beautiful Who'd Have Thought My Guts Would Spill So Gracefully", though "Mommy, Look What My Teacher Helped Me Shit Out In Art Class Today!" would have worked just as well.

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