Vincent Van Gogh

Shocking Art Pieces Exhibited In London

Shocking Art Pieces Exhibited In London

The best works of art affect people on multiple levels, transcending analysis and providing a visceral emotional response.

This can be a feeling of awe, inspiration and adoration at an intricate painting in bespoke framing, or can conversely be feelings of revulsion, anger or fear.

Whilst much of the latter can be seen in the works of experimental movements such as the Young British Artists, London has a long history of showcasing the extreme ends of the artistic world, and here are some of the most shocking examples.


Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear, Courtauld Gallery

One of the most shocking and famous paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, this haunting self-portrait shows the troubled artist with his bandaged left ear (although it appears to be his right due to him using a mirror), lost gaze and pallid skin.

The story of why Mr Van Gogh was in this state is as famous and shocking as the painting itself. After attempting to create an artist community in Arles in the south of France, he found himself arguing violently with fellow artist Paul Gauguin.

This led to a seizure where Mr Van Gogh cut his own ear off, splattering blood in every room of their house and ending up in the hospital. This self-portrait was completed a month after this and currently is located in London.


Untitled (Self Portrait With Blood), Tate Modern

Ana Mendieta was an experimental multi-disciplinary artist who specialised in shocking performance art she described as “earth-body art” that focused on life, death, feminism, identity and place, inspired by her own early life leaving Cuba as part of Operation Peter Pan in 1961.

This particular self-portrait was one of several where Ms Mendieta used fake blood as a powerful transformative expression that subverted traditional ideas of beauty and femininity, as well as using somewhat visceral iconography associated with Christianity.

Whilst initially shocking when it was presented at the Tate Modern for the first time, it has developed an even more macabre meaning after her shocking death in 1985 after falling out of a 34th-floor window in New York, the details of which are still unclear to this day.