The recent coverage of a topless painter who graced the stage of "Thailand's Got Talent" with her controversial breast-on-canvas act got us thinking about the most shocking things artists have actually done in the name of their craft. After reviewing work by the likes of Marina Abramovic, Chris Burden, and the Viennese Actionists, let's just say that nudity is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to startling works of contemporary art.
Check out the slideshow of shock-worthy artists below and tell us how you think the "Thailand Got's Talent" contestant stacks up in the comments section below.
Piero Manzoni Poops In A Can
Italian artist Piero Manzoni created an unexpected work of art called "Artist's Shit" in 1961. How'd he do it? The brazen soul filled 90 cans with feces and sold them for auction at Sotheby's. Rumors circulated that Manzoni had not actually filled the cans with human feces, a rumor which was quickly quelled when one of the cans began leaking in a Denmark museum.
Marina Abramovic Plays with Knives
A slideshow of shocking artists wouldn't be complete without including at least one of Marina Abramovic's many startling and sometimes dangerous performance art pieces. In "Rhythm 10," the artist played a Russian game that involved rapidly jabbing knives between her outstretched fingers, switching between large and small blades when she accidentally sliced herself. She recorded her first run and then tried to mimic its exact movements in a second trial, even copying the sounds she made when she nicked her hand. Painful to watch, though we imagine by the size of the blades that "nicked" might have been an understatement.
Amanda Feilding and Wafaa Bilal Drill into their Skulls
British artist Amanda Feiding (who is now married and goes by the name of Charteris) once performed a trepanation on herself as part of a short art film entitled "<a href="http://www.artandpopularculture.com/Heartbeat_In_The_Brain" target="_hplink">Heartbeat in the Brain</a>." What's a trepanation? It's a procedure that involves drilling a hole into someone's skull. The skull boring continues. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/10/wafaa-bilal-body-rejects-head-camera_n_821271.html" target="_hplink">NYU professor Wafaa Bilal</a> implanted a camera into the back of his head as part of a surveillance art project called "The 3rd I." The extreme body modification eventually came to an end when his body physically rejected one of the titanium posts used to keep the device in place on his skull.
Chris Burden Gets Shot
Chris Burden probably deserves several slides, as he's shot at a 747 airplane, taken a bullet to the arm and been nailed to a volkswagen all in the name of art. Here is Burden's infamous "Shoot" from 1971, when he allowed an assistant to shoot him from a distance of 5 meters.
Voina and Tom Otterness Take their Art Out on Animals
Voina, the guerilla art group that graffitied a St. Petersburg bridge with a <a href="http://laughingsquid.com/russian-art-group-voina-paints-giant-penis-on-st-petersburg-drawbridge/" target="_hplink">giant penis</a>, once threw live cats at a McDonalds as part of a subversive performance that celebrated International Workers' Day. You can see a photo of the cats mid-air and likely terrified <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/07/23/us-russia-art-idUSL1650947620080723" target="_hplink">here</a>. But the throwing of cats is not as bad as <a href="http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-05-11/news/29547012_1_tom-otterness-sculptures-public-art-funds" target="_hplink">Tom Otterness</a>' decision to shoot an adopted dog in 1977, an act he later regretted. Come on guys, let's the leave the animals out of it. Photo: Members of Voina courtesy of Getty Images.
Marni Kotak Gives Birth in a Gallery
<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/live-birth-performance-artist-marni-kotak-delivers-healthy-baby-boy/2011/10/26/gIQAsUxoIM_blog.html" target="_hplink">Marni Kotak</a> stated that giving birth was the "highest form of art." And she wanted to make that art public. So she decided to give birth in a gallery in a performance called "The Birth of Baby X." We just hope that she didn't get too caught up in the performance and forget to pick a better name for her offspring.
Zhu Yu Allegedly Eats Fetuses
In "Eating People," Zhu Yu claimed to be cooking and eating a human fetus that he stole from a medical school. And later performances by the Chinese artist involved grafting his own skin onto a pig. All in all, Zhu Yu's entire body of work is pretty shocking.
Andres Serrano Taps into his Bodily Fluids
<a href="http://andresserrano.org/" target="_hplink">Andres Serrano</a> is the king of using bodily fluids to create art. He's sacrificed his own blood, urine and semen to make works like his super-controversial photograph of a crucifix submerged in urine titled "Piss Christ." Talk about blood, sweat and tears going into your work.
Franko B Bleeds on a Catwalk
Like Andres Serrano, <a href="http://www.franko-b.com/" target="_hplink">Franko B</a> was not afraid to shed some blood for his art. He was interested in the ritualization of his own body, so in 2002 he turned the Tate modern into a catwalk and strutted down the aisle while bloodletting in front of an audience.
Vito Acconci Gets Seedy Under a Gallery
This Bronx-born and Brooklyn-based artist got very, very comfortable at Sonnabend Gallery in 1971. For his "Seedbed" performance, he masturbated in a hidden compartment underneath the gallery and vocalized his sexual fantasies over a loudspeaker that gallery goers could hear. Like most of these shocking exhibits, we're just glad we we were not there to witness it.
Breyer P-Orridge Gets Extreme Cosmetic Surgery
<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/lady-jaye-breyer-porridge-397604.html" target="_hplink">Lady Jaye Breyer</a> and Genesis P-Orridge underwent a series of surgical procedures in order to look like each other, hoping to achieve a third being called Breyer P-Orridge. Their gender bending experiment was called pandrogyny and spurred several mixed-media exhibitions including "Painful But Fabulous."
BONUS SLIDE: Hermann Nitsch's 'Orgiastic Mystery Theater'
Equipped with animal carcases and spiritual iconography, Viennese "actionist" Hermann Nitsch organized bloody performances that played out like pagan rituals. For 30 years, he and his 'Orgiastic Mystery Theater' troupe carried out shocking art performances just like these. Enough said. We think this trumps nude breast painting.