Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art History and Visual Culture



First Advisor

Dr. Trenton Olsen

Second Advisor

Professor Kelly A. Scheffer

Third Advisor

Dr. Esperanca Maria Camara


Controversial art challenges the norms of society, by pushing boundaries to expose what is comfortable and uncomfortable. It inevitably garners attention and demands discourse. Marcel Duchamp was an innovator of controversy. He was angered by the status quo and material greed of the art industry of the early 1900s and rebelled against it with his now-famous readymade, Fountain. In Fountain, Duchamp created a formula that used controversy to garner attention from the public, the media and the art world. This formula was used by various artists throughout the past century. Contemporary artist Damien Hirst was disillusioned by the monotony of the postmodern art scene and sought to stand out from his peers. Hirst gladly embraced the Fountain formula for his own use; however, where Duchamp sought a higher artistic message in his controversy, Hirst looked toward the formula as a means to fame, and possible fortune.


Copyright 2021, Grayson Nader.