3 of the Most Controversial Photographs in History

Controversy is treated differently in each state. While most cultures revel at the opportunity of exploring a subject from all possible angles, and discussing about it in an educated, intellectual manner, other cultures to not approve of it. Controversies are a matter of opinion, and they may include a variety of topics such as religion, economics, science, age, gender, finances, history etc.

Lateral thinkers try to see the world in a different way, but this might not sit very well with the way that others think. Art has always been a subject of controversy, especially photography. Since the invention of the camera thousands of images have raised concern in the media and generated mixed signals. Today we would like to look at a collection of controversial photographs. They are definitely not the most controversial ones, but the stories behind them are interesting.

1. Piss Christ

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Let’s start things off with a truly controversial photograph: the Piss Christ, by Andres Serrano. This “artist” is well known for photos that use corpses, bodily fluids or feces (Ew!). Although he was raised in a Strict Roman Catholic family, Andres released this photograph in 1987 as part of a larger collection. It contains a small crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine. As you can imagine, the image caused a massive scandal, especially because it was sold for 15.000$ to the National Endowment for the Arts institute.

However, the message of the photograph was different than what you would think. Andres Serrano declared that the Piss Christ does not try to denounce religion, but rather allude to a perceived commercialization of Christian icons by modern culture. In 1997 a retrospective of the artist’s work was presented at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. During the show, the Piss Christ was attacked with a hammer by two teenagers.

2. Brooke Shields

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If there were ever controversial photographs that managed to shock the entire world, they would have been taken by Garry Gross.  We will only display the cropped version of it. Long story short, the collection of photos show a ten-year-old Brooke Shields, in the nude. Teri Shields, the girl’s mother gave her consent, so the little one appeared in a sultry collection of photographs wearing make-up and oil.

The project, entitled The Woman in the Child aimed to reveal the femininity of prepubescent girls and was featured in Sugar & Spice and Little Women. Six years later, Brooke Shields tried to prevent the images of being used further, but the U.S. court said that she was bound by the terms of the contract and that the images did not breach child pornography rules. In 1992, Richard Prince purchased the rights to the photos and his version for 151.000 dollars.

3. Samar Hassan

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Chris Hondros won the American Pulitzer Prize for War Photographer. He travelled to Iraq in 2005, where he took one of the most iconic war photos. On January 18, he was in Tal Afar where he witnessed a car that failed to stop at an U.S. checkpoint. Fearing that it was a suicide bomber, the army opened fire on the vehicle, killed the two parents inside and injured the 5-year-old Samar Hassan.

Chris Hondros captured this image of the child, in her mother’s blood. Like the Vietnamese girl running after a napalm attack, this image quickly became viral, especially because the Iraq War was so dangerous for photographers. Samar Hassan saw the picture for the first time in 2011, and in an interview for the New York Times Middle East she said that her family was returning with her brother from the hospital. Chris Hondros was killed in Misrata by a mortar attack in 2011.

5 Supremely Awesome Mythological Objects

When I was younger I loved Indiana Jones and stories about ancient civilizations and heroes. It seemed that one mythological object could make all the troubles of the world vanish, or somehow imbue the user with inhuman strength. Have you bought yourself a fedora and hoped to find supernatural treasures such as these? You have probably already heard about Excalibur, Arthur’s sword or the Mjolnir hammer, but we want to present to you 5 supremely awesome mythological objects that you have probably not heard about.

1.     The Ring of Gyges

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There are probably many among you who have already read the Lord of the Ring Books, or seen the movies. This means that you also know about the one ring, to rule all the others. Sauron’s ring is very similar to the Ring of Gyges, in that it makes its wearer invisible. The only difference between them is that the ring from LOTR also has soul-blackening effects on the wearer. The ring of Gyges isn’t very well known. It was first described in a story told by the philosopher Plato.

According to him, a shepherd finds the ring after an earthquake unravels a cave near his flock. He takes it from the corpse of an unworldly creature, and soon finds out that it can make him invisible. With it, he seduces the king’s wife, kills the king and becomes ruler of Lydia.

2.     The Book of Thoth

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Witches use Grimoars to practice their magic. The Egyptian god of wisdom and magic, Toth, used the Book of Tooth. It is believed that this book contains two vital spells. One was designed to help the user better understand animals, while the others is used to understand the mind of the Gods. According to an old tale a prince finds the book.

As punishment his family is murdered and he commits suicide. A couple of years later, another prince finds the book but is warned not to take it by the spirit of the previous owner. Because he doesn’t listen to the advice he is forced to kill his own children. Or so he thinks, because everything is an illusion orchestrated by the ghost to convince him. He finally understands the word of the fallen prince and puts the book back where he found it.

3.     The Argo

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If you are passionate about classic mythology you have probably already heard about the Argonautica, by Apollonius of Rhodes. This book tells the tale of Jason and his crew of Heroes (the Argonauts). They sail on the Argo, a ship that was imbued with magical powers by the goddess Hera. The Argo is made from timber harvested from the forests of Dodona (it has the power of prophecy). When they completed the quest, the Argo was placed on the Zenith, and became a constellation.

4.     The Spear of Destiny

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The Christian faith speaks about many artifacts with special powers but the most well-known ones is without a doubt the Spear of Destiny. According to historians, it is the weapon with which Christ’s side was pierced. Therefore, it was imbued with incredible powers. Apparently, the owner of this weapon can control the world. It is also believed that the crazy leaders of the world managed to put their hands on it. For example, Hitler was believed to use it when dabbling with the occult, to conquer most of Europe. Conspiracy theorists also say that General Patton took the spear of destiny from Hitler upon his arrival in Nuremburg.

5.     Dragon’s Teeth

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Think about a mythological creature. The dragon is the first one that comes to mind, is it not? That’s because dragons are quintessential to all the cultures on the planet. These giant, wise, fire-breathing lizards that hold all the magic in the world have helped countless of heroes and magicians. There is even a Greek legend of Cadmus which talks about the Ares’s dragon. Cadmus was advised by Athena, Ares’s sister, to plant the dragon teeth to grow a fresh crop of soldiers. Out of all the soldiers, five survived and were sent to found the city of Thebes. There is also a saying (“to sow dragon’s teeth”) which means to create something that leads to dispute.

5 Great Nonfiction Books You Must Read

We’ve recommended you some powerful books that will change your perception on life and now it’s time for nonfiction. These following great nonfiction books will not only change your perception on life, but they will change your life. They will change the way you eat, the way you memorize information, the way you use the internet, the way you view time and space and the way you view yourself as a human being. Here are 5 great nonfiction books that you must read this summer!

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric SchlosserFast Food Nation The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser

Fascinated by fast-food? Whether you love it or hate it, we assure you that you will love this great nonfiction book. Eric Schlosser exposes the underbelly of the American fast-food industry and it’s not pretty. Did you know that fast-food restaurants work on the same principles that a factory assembly line do? Factory farms are presented, slaughterhouses reveal their secrets and you learn why French fries taste so good with the help of a visit to the largest flavor company. It’s not a comfortable book, one that you snuggle up to the fire with. It will shake you, but you will thank it for doing so at the end.

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua FoerMoonwalking with Einstein The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

Moonwalking with Einstein is a fascinating book written by young journalist, Joshua Foer. In one year he managed to do what others thought would be impossible: he won the United States Memory Championship. In the book he tells us how he did it and he teaches us how learn how to memorize. These days people seem to rely on their own memory less and less and it is changing the way our brain works. The art of memory is a set of techniques that were invented in ancient Greeks that helped people memorize entire books. These ancient mnemonic methods are brought into our attention and they’re simply fascinating.

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas CarrThe Shallows What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

With this book Nicholas Carr challenges the most popular and helpful tool humanity has at this moment: the Internet. Is Google making us dumb? was the question that started it all. The gist of it is that the ease with which we receive information has permanently changed the way our brain perceives information in general. Discoveries in neuroscience have revealed that our neural pathways have been rerouted. The Internet has literally changed our brains! If you still don’t want to go out and buy it, know that the book was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Price in General Nonfiction.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingA Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

This great nonfiction book you must read was number one on New York Times’ bestseller list. It is a landmark piece of scientific literature written by one of the greatest contemporary minds, Stephen Hawking. The book explores the age-old questions of how did our universe begin, is there a limit to our universe? The awesome thing about this book is that it is written in plain English, so that we can all understand what that man is telling us. So, if black holes and quasars have always fascinated you, pick up a copy of A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and devour it!

The Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsThe Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins will challenge the way we view natural selection. The man’s theories that he presents so clearly and so beautifully in his book, The Selfish Gene, have helped change the nature of the study of social biology. Many of his readers have claimed that this book has changed their beliefs on life. The book is about exploitation, competition and how we’re genetically engineered to be selfish. The current revised edition of the book has two new chapters, one of which is entitled Nice Guys Finish First and it tackles the subjects of selfishness and cooperation. He argues that evolution favors co-operative behavior, even in a selfish environment.

Have you read any of these great nonfiction books? Which one do you find most appealing? Drop us a line!

Three Totally out of the Box Artists

While art has always been a delicate topic since it combines elements from the experience of the artist with his or her own view of the world, as if looking through the world through your very own, ever changing kaleidoscope, it has never ceased to bring people of all convictions, races, skin colors, nationalities and religions together. In marveling at the beauty that man can create we revel in our own endless potential, and as Einstein said it, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

If there is someone that bathes in imagination, it’s artists, and we’ve selected three out of the box artists who not only see our world different than we do, but also do so in such an original manner that it may even come as a shock.

1. Raphael Auvray

This French artist, currently working for Kerozen, a French design studio, has always distinguished himself through out-of-the box artists works, but it seems he has outdone himself with a recent collection of images based on typography, but with a twist. This collection features images of letters comprised of skin, hair, eyes and other body components that together create an interestingly grotesque and disturbing feeling that makes his work well noticeable. What is more interesting is that the hair featured on his letters belongs to designers. Here are a few of the pictures he has created:

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2. Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros

Have you ever wondered how Disney movies would have been received if the happily ever afters wouldn’t have been so happily ever after? Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros did and in doing so, he came up with DisHollywood, a project meant to measure acceptance and tolerance levels when the happy endings are no longer in tone with the phantasy-like outcome of the original versions. As a result, he did not only recreate the endings but also the idealized aspect of characters in many beloved Disney masterpieces, so as to point out a somewhat darker side of today’s society. The real question is whether or not his view on today’s society is as far from the truth as you may think (since his intention was also to incorporate those aspects of our lives in his work so that it may become clear to us how fr from our true paths we are). Here are some of the images in his DisHollywood project:

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3. David Olenick

This artist wanted a down-to-earth portrayal of human nature and chose to be inspired by the many judgment errors, embarrassing moments and character defects of human beings. He has therefore created hilarious (yet truthful) works portraying extremely bad judgment calls such as imbecile behavior when out drinking, emotional eating due to having gained too much weight, the effects of too much alcohol and many other situations you yourself have certainly found yourself in. Ask yourself when viewing his work if you haven’t experienced more such situations than you would like to admit to.

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We hoped you liked our Top Three Out of the Box artists! Stay tuned for more.

Beautiful Classic Nudes (Paintings and Sculptures)

The artistic depiction of nude people is a popular form of art now, but it has been a favorite theme for thousands of years. It could arguably be the one topic of artistic efforts that hasn’t faded since, well, the very beginning of art. Sure, it changed over time, but only in form and not in the intensity of the interest for the topic itself. The human body is a fascinating subject, and we don’t get to see it in its naked version as often as not. Therefore, its specific beauty is not only perceived as mysterious and fantasized about, but it is also the inspiration and main focus of many classical art pieces. Today we will be presenting you our favorite classic nudes of a timeless elegance and beauty.

Messalina, sculpture by Eugene Cyrille Brunet (1884)

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This beautiful piece depicts the rumored-to-be ruthless seductress in a love bed, seemingly in rapture or attempting to entice someone into joining her. The majestic beauty of that pure white body arched in erotic tension is disarmingly captivating. Most classic nudes aren’t by far as sexually charged as this one; the vast majority just depict naked people or naked beautiful people but without this show of emotion. Messalina manages to send off a really moving vibe of eroticism, and while her skin seems so perfectly white and smooth, the overall look of her body doesn’t look artificial at all. Kudos to the artist for a really wonderful and mesmerizing piece.

Venus of Milo

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Another sculpture is the famous Venus of Milo, found in Melos in 1820, but created around 130-100 BC. That means the beauty of this woman managed to somehow survive for over two thousand years and make it to this day to continue stirring the hearts of people who look upon it. All this admiration, furthermore, comes in spite of its regrettable but unavoidable damage. It’s particularly interesting (and a bit moving, also) to notice how little the beauty ideals and standards have changed. Seeing what ancient Greeks considered breath-taking somehow just closes the gap between “us” and “them”.

Maja Desnuda, painting by Goya (1795-1800)

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The famous Spanish painter usually was drawn to ugliness and the grotesque (at least as much as the times and the current trends allowed him), but it surely wasn’t the case here. A collection of classic nudes wouldn’t be complete without the beautiful Maja Desnuda (Naked Maja). The painting has a counterpart usually hung next to it in whatever museum they’re taken to, called Maja Vestida (Clothed Maya), for which Goya painted a portrait of the same model, but with clothes on. Her body seems to display perfect proportions, while her face is refreshingly lively and a bit cheeky, just the right amount.

The Kiss, sculpture by Auguste Rodin (1889)

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A wonderfully natural and also nicely intimate pose of a couple kissing. The faces of the people portrayed don’t even matter in this setting, precisely because the sculpture in trying to convey some sort of anonymity and greater intimacy of the depicted couple. The idea the viewer gets after admiring this is, furthermore, that in the face of love, we become closer to archetypes perhaps, as in the idea of a man and the idea of a woman, but not in a creepy and de-personalizing way. This is one of the most beautiful sculpted classic nudes ever made, probably because it’s not a single nude meaning to entice, but a double nude that only expresses tenderness and intimacy.

The Birth of Venus, painting by Sandro Botticelli (1486)

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This is just as well-known in the mainstream media as the other Venus depiction presented above, but it was worth mentioning nonetheless for more than one reason. First of all, the painting’s quality is really impressive considering that it’s about 300 years older than most of the other pieces of art featured here. Second of all, that all-encompassing tender and contemplative gaze of the main character, while her beautiful fiery hair gently floats around here in a truly miraculous grace, well, that kind of self-abandon is simply contagious. No list of the world’s most moving classic nudes should close without her.