In 1959, Robert Rauschenberg created Canyon, one of his most iconic combine paintings, for which he affixed a taxidermied bald eagle to a canvas. The work was deemed unsellable, as bald eagles are barred from entering the marketplace by US law—a restriction that took center stage in 2012 in a legal dispute over the work’s valuation. Taxidermy, the act of preserving an animal’s physical remains, dates back to the Middle Ages, originating as a way for scientists to study and display specimens of natural history. Recently, artists like Damien Hirst and Maurizio Cattelan have integrated taxidermied animals into their sculptures, using these lifelike objects to explore questions of mortality. The use of taxidermy in art remains controversial, continuing a century-old tradition of challenging the boundaries of art through the use of unconventional found objects that began with Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain.

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20 Artworks
20 Artworks: