Here are all of the pieces which I’ve written about so far, in chronological order. If you’d like to see a subset published (e.g., positive messages, female artists, sculptures, just let me know.
Greek, “Archer Figure from Left Side of West Pediment, Temple of Aphaia, Aegina,” c.500-490 B.C.
A newly reproduced sculpture from classical antiquity which shows just how garishly painted the marble statues from ancient Greece and Rome were.
Onfim, “Birchbark Documents,” 12th-13th century
Drawings made on birchbark by a Russian child hundreds of years ago, which are remarkably similar to those drawn by modern children.
Donatello, “Magdalene Penitent,” c.1453-1455
A sculpture by one of the greatest sculptors of all time, which challenged the public too much, effectively ending his career.
Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci, “The Baptism of Christ,” 1472-1475
A painting done by both Leonardo and his teacher, Verocchio, during which Leonardo was said to have surpassed the master.
Artemisia Gentileschi, “Judith Beheading Holofernes,” 1611-1612
One of the first great female artists choosing to depict herself as the biblical Judith, and her rapist as the enemy general Judith is beheading.
Paul Revere, “Bloody Massacre Perpetrated in Kings Street in Boston,” 1770
A sensationalized contemporary depiction of the Boston Massacre, which helped incite the American Revolution.
Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, “Self-Portrait,” 1790
A great female portrait painter choosing to depict herself as submissive and proper, so that she could continue her career without stirring up trouble.
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, “View from the Window at Le Gras,” 1826
The first permanent photograph; the view out the photographer’s window.
Eugène Delacroix, “La Liberté guidant le people (Liberty Leading the People),” 1830
A depiction of the same French Revolution which inspired Les Miserables; an allegory of liberty triumphing in the name of the people of France.
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, “Orestes Pursued by the Furies,” 1862
A beautiful painting depicting the mythical Orestes, tormented by the Furies for killing his mother.
Édouard Manet, “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (Luncheon on the Grass),” 1862-1863
A controversial painting which intentionally blurred the lines between “nude” and “naked” to the horror of the public.
Édouard Manet, “Olympia,” 1863
A rebellious painting referencing a classic Titian painting while unabashedly depicting a prostitute in control of her own sexuality.
Méret Oppenheim, “Object,” 1936
The “Quintessential surrealist piece,” a teacup and spoon covered in gazelle fur.
Walker Evans, “Alabama Tenant Farmer,” 1936
Sherrie Levine, “After Walker Evans,” 1980
Michael Mandiberg, “Untitled (AfterSherrieLevine.com/1.jpg),” 2001
Michael Mandiberg, “Untitled (AfterWalkerEvans.com/1.jpg)”, 2001
A poignant photograph of a destitute man living through the Great Depression, a photograph taken 44 years later of the photograph, and a digital copy of the photograph of the photograph taken 21 years after that.
Felix Nussbaum, “Selbstbildnis mit Judenpass (Self-Portrait with Jewish Identity Card),” 1943
A shockingly courageous self-portrait of a Belgian Jew wearing the identifying star and holding up his Jewish identity card, painted while in hiding from the Nazis.
Frida Kahlo, “The Broken Column (Self-Portrait),” 1944
A self-portrait showing the artist as literally broken and bleeding, expressing her emotional and physical pain following a bus accident.
Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney Studios, “Destino,” 1946-2006
A collaboration between Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney from 1946 that was completed only six years ago.
John Cage, “4’33”,” 1952
Four minutes and thirty-three seconds of ambient noise declared music.
Robert Rauschenberg, “Erased de Kooning Drawing,” 1953
The destruction of another artist’s work declared art.
Piero Manzoni, “Merda D’Artista (Artist’s Shit),” 1961
The artist’s fecal matter canned and sold to art collectors.
Roman Opałka, “1965 / 1 - ∞,” 1965-2011
An aging artist struggling in vain to reach infinity in a finite lifespan.
Nick Ut, “Terrible War (Napalm Girl),” 1972
Perhaps the most famous picture of the horrors of the Vietnam War, which helped steer Americans toward protesting the atrocities committed in their names.
Marina Abramović, “Rhythm 0,” 1974
The “grandmother of performance art” allowing viewers to do anything to her for six hours.
Cindy Sherman, “Untitled Film Still #13,” 1978
An intriguing photograph that emulates an ambiguous scene from a class film noir.
Wally Wood, “22 Panels That Always Work,” 1980
A comic book artist’s collection of twenty-two panels that work to invigorate scenes featuring only dialogue.
Maya Lin, “Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” 1982
The iconic, but extremely polarizing Vietnam Memorial.
Andres Serrano, “Immersion (Piss Christ),” 1987
A crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine and photographed.
Guerrilla Girls, “Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into The Met. Museum?” 1989
An advertisement pointing out the blatant lack of female artists in a major museum.
Christoph & Wolfgang Lauenstein, Balance, 1989
A short, wordless animation of several figures living peacefully on a floating square, until one finds a mysterious box.
James Sanborn, “Kryptos,” 1990
A sculpture that sits in front of the CIA headquarters, which contains an impossibly difficult coded message.
Félix González-Torres, “Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.)”, 1991
A huge pile of candy representing the artist’s lover, who died of AIDS.
Lucian Freud, “Painter Working, Reflection,” 1993
A vulnerable, brutally honest self-portrait of an aging, brilliant artist.
Penn and Teller,Desert Bus, 1995
A satiric video game which points out just how terribly boring video games would be if they weren’t violent and reflected real life.
Joe McNally, “Phan Thi Kim Phuc,” 1995
A photograph of little girl from “Terrible War (Napalm Girl),” taken twenty-three years later, grown up and with her own child.
J.S.G. Boggs, “Boggs Note,” 1995
A forged (and slightly altered) dollar bill spent as currency without the knowledge of the seller.
Ai Weiwei, “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn,” 1995
The artist smashing a priceless, 2,000 year-old urn as an allegory for sudden cultural shift.
John Simon, “Every Icon,” 1997-present
A flickering 32x32 pixel icon which will, over the next several hundred trillion years, show every possible image in black and white.
Tracey Emin, “My Bed,” 1998
The bed of the artist transported into a gallery after a suicidal depression.
Karin Stack, “Hair Stories,” 1998
A series of photographs documenting the artist’s hair returning after being lost to chemotherapy.
MOMO, “Tag Manhattan,” 2006
A two-mile long graffiti signature across Manhattan.
Ursus Wehrli, “Untitled Tidied,” 2006
A Keith Haring painting “tidied up.”
Shelley Jackson, “Skin,” 2003-present
A short story published on the skin of 2,095 participants, each of whom get a word tattooed on his/her skin.
Mark Jenkins, from the “Glazed Paradise” series, c. 2006
A graffiti installation of balloons attached to a (fake) man face-down in water.
Tinkebell, “Save the Males,” 2007
A performance piece in which the artist purchased chicks destined to be shredded, and sold them in a gallery, threatening to feed the remaining chicks into a shredder herself.
Laura Keeble, “Forgotten Something?,” 2007
A replica of the most expensive piece of art sold by a living artist…thrown in the trash.
Guillermo Vargas, “Exposición N° 1”, 2007
A dog tied up and left to starve in a gallery.
Caleb Charland, “Atomic Model,” 2008
A pen-light connected to a drill and photographed via long exposure so that it resembles a model of an atom.
Vince Gilligan,et al., Breaking Bad, 2008-2013
A nearly flawless TV series, with endlessly analyzable visual iconography.
Golan Levin, “Double Taker (Snout),” 2008
A snout-like robot which seems to react to the viewer with astonishment.
Blake Fall-Conroy, “Minimum Wage Machine,” 2008-2010
A machine which pays the user minimum wage for turning a crank on the side.
Kirsten Wood and Emily Acle, “Karina,” 2009
A bewildering digital scan of a woman’s thong laminated in plastic.
Sebastian Errazuriz, “American Kills,” 2009
Tally marks on the side of a building that document the number of soldiers killed in battle vs. those who commit suicide after returning home.
Mike Thompson, “Blood Lamp,” 2009
A one-use lamp activated with the user’s blood.
Kordian Lewandowski, “Game Over,” 2010
An homage to Michelangelo’s “Pietà,” but with Nintendo characters in the place of Jesus and Mary.
Ryan McGinley, “India (Coyote),” 2010
A striking photograph of a coyote on a nude woman’s shoulders.
Kurt Mueller, “Cenotaph,” 2011
A jukebox which plays recordings of various ceremonial moments of silence.
Anna Utopia Giordano, “La Nascita di Venere,” 2011
A classical masterpiece Photoshopped to contemporary standards of beauty.
Lauren Quock, “White/Colored, Men/Women,” 2011
A segregation era drinking fountain sign repainted to assert that gender roles are an issue of discrimination.
Banksy, “Cardinal Sin,” 2011
A bust of a cardinal with the face replaced with tiles, designed to resemble pixelation, as when criminals are portrayed on TV.
Todd Howard and Bethesda Game Studios, “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” 2011
An immersive and thought-provoking game with overarching political themes.
Ayana Evans, “Operation Catsuit,” 2012
A hidden camera video of a woman walking through the MoMA while wearing a neon, zebra-print bodysuit and the reactions it causes.
Matt Kenyon, “Supermajor,” 2012
A sculpture that employs a powerful optical illusion to make it seem as though oil is flowing against gravity into a perforated can.
Richard Turley, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid,” 2012
The cover of Bloomberg Businessweek, which declared Hurricane Sandy a direct result of global warming, in no uncertain terms.
Pussy Riot, “Punk Prayer ‘Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away’,” 2012
A two minute performance protest against Vladimir Putin and the Orthodox Church, which got several members of the group thrown in prison.
Berndnaut Smilde, “Nimbus Cukurcuma Hamam II,” 2012
A cloud produced and photographed inside a building.
Kroiker McGuire, “Fireworks by Katy Perry (Yoko Ono cover),” 2012
A hilariously edited video of a performance by Yoko Ono which makes her seem utterly ridiculous and untalented.
Jane McGonigal, “SuperBetter,” 2012
A video game designed to “gamify” one’s life and encourage positive behaviors through positive reinforcement.
Simon Faithfull, “Shy Fountain,” 2012
A clever allegory for shyness, in the form of a fountain which only functions when no one is around.
State Senator Constance Johnson, “Untitled (Amendment to Oklahoma Senate Bill 1433),” 2012
A satiric amendment which would have made “any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina” illegal.
Marina Abramović and Lady Gaga, “The Abramović Method Performed by Lady Gaga,” 2013
A short video of Lady Gaga’s time spent training with the “grandmother of performance art.”
Jacqueline Traides, “Untitled,” 2013
A performance piece which points out the cruel nature of animal testing by performing it on the artist in a store window.
Tyler Reynolds,HabitRPG, 2013
Another, less forgiving, gamification device, which rewards or punishes users’ characters for their real-life actions.
Pro Infirmis, “Because who is perfect? Get closer,” 2013
Mannequins reshaped to accurately portray people with various disabilities, then displayed in store windows.
A Few Autonomous Flower Children, “Untitled,” 2013
A pro-marijuana protest, in which protesters secretly planted tens of thousands of marijuana seeds all over a city in Germany.
Sparky Sweets, PhD., “Thug Notes,” 2013 – present
A YouTube channel which tries to break down the stuffy barriers between academia and average people by discussing literature in street slang, pointing out that one does not need to use big words to discuss big ideas.
Fredrik Colting, “Tikker,” 2013
A watch which calculates the wearer’s likely time of death and counts down to that time.
Jonathan Frieman, “Untitled,” 2013
A bizarre performance piece in which a protester drove in a carpool lane with financial information from his business in the passenger seat, claiming that if “corporations are people,” he hasn’t committed a crime.
FRONT404, “George Orwell’s Birthday Party,” 2013
A tongue-in-cheek celebration of George Orwell’s 110th birthday, by putting party hats on the omnipresent security cameras around the Netherlands.
Jacob Andrews, “Realization,” 2013
A short comic, which reflects the insecurities many of us have with finding purpose in our lives.
Sang Mun, “ZXX,” 2013
A font designed to be completely unreadable by machines in order to protect one’s privacy.
Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, “Stop Telling Women to Smile,” 2013
A poster with a relatively simple message, whose relevance is shown by the reaction it received.
Eliza Bennett, “A Woman’s Work Is Never Done,” 2013
An inversion of traditional gender roles, by turning a traditionally feminine activity into something so painful-looking that it would make most people wince.
Megan Rose Gedris (Rosalarian), “Ticking Time Bomb,” 2013
A comic which points out the ridiculousness of criticizing Angelina Jolie for opting for a double mastectomy to prevent an 87% chance of developing breast cancer.
Stephen Glassman, “Urban Air,” 2013
A proposed sculpture in which the artist plants bamboo on a repurposed billboard to restore some of the area around a highway to nature.
Ebony Eden, “For Every Flower Forced to Bloom,” 2013
A stunning series of film stills of a flower bud being pulled open, as a painful allegory for sexual assault.
Deathbulge, “Jerk,” 2013
A simple three-panel comic which points out how much insults linger, while compliments seem to fade away.
Angel Haze, “Same Love,” 2014
A feminist cover of Macklemore’s “Same Love,” rewritten and performed by a pansexual woman of color.