Twenty years ago, in the summer of 1989, the Corcoran cancelled its scheduled retrospective exhibition of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe called "Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment". The Institute of Contemporary Art hosted a two-day symposium Imperfect Moments: Mapplethorpe and Censorship Twenty Years Later. The original exhibit was organized by Janet Kardon from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. A must read is the Janet Kardon article from 1988. The show was partially financed by the National Endowment for the Arts. One of the reasons for the cancellation was the uproar over the Andres Serrano photograph "Piss Christ" which was also funded by the NEA and exhibited in North Carolina. See the link above for the advert for Andres Serrano's SHIT show last fall.
Sister Wendy, nun and art critic, in an 1998 article in Art in America, doesn't seem at all bothered by Serrano's Piss Christ. (sorry, someone broke my link to the article). The New York Times reviewed a 10-year Serrano retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in a 1995 article by Holland Cotter.
The Guardian.UK's Jonathan Jones, in an article from Sept. 2000, writes about the Mapplethorpe polaroid portrait of Patti Smith from 1974 shown below. He nails this one calling Patti Smith "black anger in the white light".
Patti Smith, 1974, Polaroid -©Robert Mapplethorpe
Patti Smith, 1979 - ©Robert Mapplethorpe
Piss Christ - ©Andres Serrano