Why is everybody so angry with Andres Serrano?
Because he made this picture?    It's actually quite beautiful - the golden-red light, the soft shadows, and the sorrow of Jesus' hanging head.
One can hardly attack Serrano for not being an capable artist. His images is (as with Mapplethorpe) technically perfect, razor-sharp, with deep, saturated colours. He takes slides on medium-format cameras, and makes cibachromes which simply put are slides copied to paper, with a specific technique. They are huge, and mostly studio pictures (again, like Mapplethorpe), even if Serrano has series from Europe (Prague, IIRC), and "The Morgue", which are taken, well in the morgue, and thus out of the studio, if not outdoors.
Serrano has worked with fluids for a long time. He started with Mondrianesque compositions of  plexiglass containers filled with cows' blood or milk, the containers shaped like crosses or circles. Then he discovered the magic of immersion . He placed statues and figures in containers, filled them with water, and photographed them with nice soft light, and the tiny air bubbles covering the figurines, mostly religious characters; Jesus and the diciples etc. What many people find hard to believe is that Serrano is a catholic, but his pictures of crucifixes and Biblical figures is always beautiful .Consider the picture "Piss Christ" without the title, and without worrying about what the liquid was. Had it been called "Christ in Golden Sunset", the catholic church would have made him their court artist  immediately. Other bodily fluids Serrano use is semen. He has frozen it, he has mixed it with blood and pressed the mix between glass before photographing it, and he has photographed it leaving the body the way semen normally leaves the, see Untitled XIV below. "The Morgue" is pictures of dead bodies , and the brilliant thing about this series is that the images is far from as horrible as one would think. Just like "Piss Christ", they actually have a serene, quiet beauty. The titles is the cause of death, and we can't help (like with Joel-Peter Witkins pictures) thinking of the sad events that has led to this person lying here. Terrible, but peaceful. Ugly, but beautiful. Strange , but familiar. Don't you want to touch the face of the little girl?
The Pictures
Black Supper
Circle of Blood
Klansman Grand Dragon
Piss and Blood
Piss Light
Rape of Sabine
Frozen Sperm
Semen and Blood
St. Clotilde
Untitled XIV (Ejaculate in Trajectory- lovingly dubbed "cum shot")
From "The Morgue":
Infectious Pneumonia
Rat Poison Suicide

Some early works     |  An article about Serrano exhibiting in Australia |
Joel-Peter Witkin

Joel-Peter Witkin isn't always welcome in church, either. His imagery is a grotesque congregation of the deformed, the abnormal, the sexually perverted. They are assembled in tableaux, posing for the camera, frequently with some sort of devices, tools, suits that makes us inadvertedly visualize not only the (sometimes horrid) scene we are looking at, but what will happen? What are they actually doing?
Witkin has advertised for models with defects, handicaps, exotic sexual practices, midgets and people with odd body shapes. Knowing this made me feel even more uneasy when looking at his pictures - as I no longer can comfort myself with the idea of  collages, costumes, darkroom magic.

But why, oh, why?
The painter Hieronymus Bosch is mentioned often in the discussion of Serrano and Witkin. Bosch painted Hell with all its tormented souls, its demons and its horror. Spanish artist Goya depicted gruesome scenes from the Spanish war. Käthe Kollwitz drew the suffering, humiliation and hunger of the poor people that crowded the waiting-room of her doctor husband.

Ah, you say, but that is a different matter alltogether. This was real pain, real people. So? Haven't you been listening? Witkins models are real people too. What troubles you isn't that the pictures are an abuse of them, but of yourself and what you consider ugly or beautiful.

Witkin's pictures is filled with references to art, religion and litterature. Some of his pictures are pastiches over famous works , like "Leda and the Swan", or "Harvest", which is an unsettling homage to Archimboldo's rennaisance painting of a man's head composed only of fruit and vegatables.
The pictures
Manuel Osorio
Mother and Child
Pictures from the Afterworld
Siamese Twins
The Kiss (Le Baiser)
Woman breastfeeding an Eel
Woman on a Table
Woman once a Bird
Poet from a Collection of Relics and Ornaments

(I owe many of these pictures to the site

"The image exudes torture and pain, but this is not the extent of the photographer's
ambition for it. He envisions a huge scale; the print will be the largest he can make because he has mapped a grand conception, and, after more than forty years as a  photographer, arrived at a place of understanding more lucid than he has ever before achieved. With his vanitas he establishes an erotic territory of majestic sacrifice and sacrament, the meaning of which, for him, lies somewhere between the unspeakable suffering of the crucified Christ and that of the Jews under Hitler."

Eugenia Parry from her essay in the book "Joel-Peter Witkin: The Bone House"

All text on these pages is by me, I have ripped the pictures off the web. So sue me.