An undefined language

A white plastic crucifix submerged in yellow liquid appears to glow through the 1987 photograph by artist Andres Serrano.

Known as “Piss Christ,” Western art professor Garth Amundson says the shock-value photograph caused a scandal among religious communities as well as artists.
“When you looked at it, it really was just a cross submerged in a yellow fluid; you didn’t know the didactic, and you could get kind of lost in the beauty of it,” Amundson says.

Didactic art is intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment. Upon reading the caption of “Piss Christ,” the definition turns to challenge social norms, Christianity and organized religion, Amundson says.

Western Gallery director and art professor Sarah Clark-Langager says art changes so continuously that it is difficult to qualify. Art can be described as a visual way of writing, she says.

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