The story of “Piss Christ”

Andres Serrano’s infamous 1987 photo became Christian history

Jonathan Poletti
I blog God.


In 1987, Andres Serrano, age 37, was a New York City artist shifting from working at an ad agency to doing fine art. He had the idea to photograph plastic statues in a Plexiglas tank he’d filled with his urine.

Serrano was interested in extreme physical experiences. His art might’ve picked up from his drug addiction of the 1970s. He’d worked as a drug dealer and went to art school, then taught himself photography.

Getting the bubbles just right was a real trick, but a series, titled Immersion, was his first inspired work. One image stood out. He titled it Piss Christ.

Was he trying to shock Christians?

This might be assumed, and Christians do like to be shocked—while pretending they don’t—but it seems unlikely. Christians don’t go to outré modern art exhibits! Serrano showed the Immersion series in 1987 at the Stux Gallery in the Upper West Side. It barely got any attention.

Those viewers were likely just amused, and piss in a tank wouldn’t have even compared to their Saturday night social life. Nobody is even…