Sacrilegious Sanctimony – Andres Serrano by Jason Collins

close up photo of an aluminum foil

Andres Serrano, who is a born and raised New Yorker, is best known for his controversial artworks and photos. Serrano’s artwork is known to upset people as he often uses images of corpses, unlikely and distributing materials, and has even used feces in the images. 

Serrano is best known for highly controversial images that contain objects that are religious in nature, with their titles being unambiguous to describe the creation of the artwork. 

Education and Early Life

Serrano was born in New York on the 15th of August, 1950.  His parents were Honduran and Afro-Cuban. Serrano was brought up in a family that was strict Roman Catholic, and looking at his work you might be surprised to learn that he is still a devout Christian to this day.

Serrano studied at the Brooklyn Museum Art School between the years 1967 and 1969. Though Serrano is known for his brilliant photography and uniqueness, he credits himself as a self-taught photographer. 


Serrano began working as an assistant art director for an advertising firm before starting to create his artworks and images. His first artwork to be displayed was done at Alex Harsley’s Fourth Street Gallery in New York.

Serrano often has to deal with vandalism and aggression from people as they are often protesting his artwork. His artworks often contain highly controversial topics that range from bodily fluids like menstrual blood and semen to all the way to Christianity and other religions. 

Some of his artworks evoked such a strong response that it resulted in violence. On October 5th, 2007, Serrano’s photographs that were being displayed in Lund, Sweden were vandalized by a group of people that were suspected of being part of a neo-Nazi Group. 

Serrano has also created the artwork and the art covers for the famous heavy metal band Metallica. His artwork Blood and Semen III was used for the cover of Metallica’s album aptly called Load.

Serrano also took on the alter ego called “Brutus Faust” to create his own full-length album called Vengeance. The Album consists of four songs that were written by his wife, Irina Movmyga, and one song co-written by Serrano, Steeve Messina, and Thad Debrock

Piss Christ – 1987

Possibly his most famous work is Piss Christ. This is a photograph that shows a small crucifix that is submerged in an orange liquid that is said to be the artist’s own urine. The highly controversial photo has garnered a lot of anger in the form of its believed blasphemy and anti-Christian imagery.  

The full name of the image is called “Immersion (Piss Christ).” The photo has dimensions of 60-by-40 inches. It is printed with Cibachrome, and the colors of it let the deep and rich color of the orange urine stand out giving it the appearance of blood. 

Serrano explained his reasoning behind the controversial image as “What it symbolizes is the way Christ died: the blood came out of him but so did the piss and the shit. Maybe if Piss Christ upsets you, it’s because it gives some sense of what the crucifixion actually was like…I was born and raised a Catholic and I’ve been a Christian all my life.” 

Serrano’s work continues to divide opinions today and remains an iconic example of sacrilegious sanctimony.

Jason Collins is a freelance writer, epicure, and lover of all things human expression. While he has not had the opportunity to go to the Louvre in-person he has taken more virtual tours than he would care to remember or mention. When he is not out getting lost somewhere in the desert of Nevada he spends most of his time with his two beagles Max and Sherry.

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