There are artists who pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their work, as the cliché saying goes. Then, there are artists who literally use their very own fluids and excretions. From frozen blood busts by Marc Quinn to an ejaculatory canvas by Marcel Duchamp to the colorful, projectile regurgitation from Millie Brown — these pieces raise questions and eyebrows. See the shocking and the surprisingly beautiful works of extra intimate art in our gallery.
A few years before his death, Italian conceptual artist Piero Manzoni played an eloquent practical joke on the art market when he preserved 90 tin cans worth of his own waste in 1961. Originally priced at its weight in gold, each 30 gram specimen of consumerism critique went for $37, but as the market fluctuated, the price of Artist’s Shit per can jumped to as high as $181,374 in 2007. Well played, sir!
Over the years, Andres Serano’s famed Piss Christs sustained several attacks by offended folk gone smashy-smashy. Thou shall not dunk plastic Jesus in a glass of your own urine, no matter how pretty it looks! If these impassioned vandals never knew the content of the hazy amber filters beautifying these trinkets, would they have found the visuals inspiring?
Perhaps you’ve seen British artist Marc Quinn’s sculpture series of supermodel Kate Moss with her legs vulgarly wrapped around her head? Kitschy or not, Quinn sure is dedicated. Every five years, he creates a Self — a cast of his head from 4.5 litres of his own blood, drained from his body over a period of 5 months and frozen in a mold. The resulting bloody frosty comes with his own refrigeration unit.
This is artist Albert Reyes crawling swiftly over pavement, spitting out his drink with a continuous, well-measured stroke of a graffiti artist and drooling out impressive images of mugs. It started as a gag, but now his spit-art performances accompany all his gallery openings, right there on the sidewalk.
Millie Brown’s video piece Nexus Vomitus features the contemporary artist slurping up tall glasses of thick, pastel “paint.” Then, she makes herself vomit it onto a canvas while a choir of opera singers softly serenades.
This world map of LED bulbs is based on NASA’s satellite photos of the Earth at night. The map is connected to “organic” batteries powered by human sweat. Waste to Work collaborators Daniela Kostova and Olivia Robinson made this fuel and collected it from volunteers wearing special “sweat harvesting suits.” Viola! Try and call sweat “waste” again, go ahead!
Self-taught artist and Feminist Porn Award nominee May Ling Lu uses pen, ink and menstrual blood in her work as part of her detailed documentation of her body’s monthly ritual. There’s a spotting of “period artists” out there, but this one takes it very personally.
In 1946 Marcel Duchamp personally inseminated a piece of Astralon plastic. Shortly after, the painting Paysage Fautif was born.
In a culinary shock action, Chilean-born artist Marco Evaristti had liposuction and mixed ground beef with his own sucked-out fat. The fleshy, Catholicism-alluding meatballs were fried in olive oil and offered to gallery guests as Polpette al Grasso di Marco and, of course, cannibalistically consumed by the artist himself.
Taking it one step further, Russian fantasy writer Maskim Aleshin has already hired a craftsman to turn his tattooed back skin into very rare book-binding, pending his demise. He’s yet to finish the book, but at least the cover’s finished: Living Book.