The news that this year’s Turner Prize nominees include a performance artist called Spartacus and a man who fills imaginary worlds with faeces barely caused a shrug when it was announced earlier this month.
Meanwhile, the major UK galleries are filling their rooms with homely homages to Britain and the Jubilee, and the Olympics is being marked with a retrospective from a man who was last controversial and edgy about 20 years ago.
All of which begs the question: when is art going to shock us again?
From the saucy frescoes of Pompeii to Duchamp’s urinal, art has a long tradition of ruffling feathers and causing a scandal in its time.
To help today’s artists find the inspiration to make us stomp our feet in outrage, here are 10 artists who knew how to cause an upset…
Twenty years after painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo sparked hot dispute with his enormous fresco, The Last Judgment. It depicted nudity on the chapel's alter wall and the Catholic counter-reformation critics were horrified. They deemed the work unfit for a papal chapel and after Michelangelo's death the offending genitalia were covered up. PHOTO: Artfinder
Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (1791-1824)
Géricault's monumental The Raft of the Medusa, depicted the aftermath of a contemporary French shipwreck in which the captain had left the crew and passengers to die. The painting ignited political controversy in Paris, fuelling widespread condemnation of corrupt authorities, but Géricault went on to become a pioneer of the Romantic movement - not bad for an artist who launched his career with a sinking ship. PHOTO: Artfinder
Édouard Manet (1832-1883)
Édouard Manet (1832-1883) - Édouard Manet caused a stir in the Paris Salon with his early painting The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe). Showing naked women frolicking around fully dressed companions, they appeared to hold a mirror up to the prostitution problem that was rife in Paris' parks at the time - a taboo the city was not happy to confront head on. PHOTO: Artfinder
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
When the prominent portrait painter chose the beautiful young socialite Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau as a subject, she was delighted. But when the painting was unveiled to the public under the title Portrait de Mme *** the sitter's flushed ear and provocative loose shoulder strap caused a stir: Gautreau was humiliated and her mother requested the painting be taken down. Sargent renamed the piece to the more impersonal Madame X and repainted the dress strap to make it look more securely fastened. PHOTO: Wikipaintings
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was originally entitled The Brothel of Avignon. The women pose in primitive attitudes and the piece was deemed savage and immoral even by Picasso's supporters. Though it is now considered a revolutionary achievement, it remained rolled up in Picasso's studio for years after it was first shown. PHOTO: Wikipaintings
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
Perhaps the most scandalous in Duchamp's string of provocative works was his porcelain urinal, signed 'R.Mutt' and entitled Fountain. When it was submitted for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, it was rejected by the committee, despite the fact that the rules stated that all works would be accepted by artists who paid the fee. PHOTO: PA
Marcus Harvey (born 1963)
British artist Marcus Harvey found himself at the centre of scandal when his painting Myra was vandalised (with eggs from Fortnum & Mason) by angry members of the public when it was put on display at the Royal Academy of Art in 1997. It depicted the child murderer Myra Hindley in a portrait created completely out of the handprints of small children. The Sun said: "Myra Hindley is to be hung in the Royal Academy. Sadly it is only a painting of her". PHOTO: PA
Marc Quinn (born 1964)
When sculptor Marc Quinn's sculpture of pregnant, disabled artist Alison Lapper was unveiled on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth, Quinn was highly criticised by disability groups for capitalizing on the shock value of disability. Many art critics described the piece as ugly. PHOTO: PA
Damien Hirst (born 1965)
As Britain's richest artist, Hirst is used to being under the spotlight and is no stranger to scandal. He has been accused of plagiarism on numerous occasions and was much criticised for his use of a baby's skull in 2008 piece, For Heaven's Sake. PHOTO: Wikipaintings
David Blaine (born 1973)
Not your traditional artist, David Blaine's world-famous endurance stunts have earned him a place in the history books. Whether it's being hung over the Thames, simulating drowning or being frozen alive, his particular brand of performance art has seen him called an illusionist,a publicity hound and a cheat. PHOTO: PA