Prehistoric artifacts indicate that humans have used tattooing as a means of expression for several thousand years. Now, in the 21st century, this type of body decoration has come to be largely accepted even in respectable society and is a part of everyday life in our western world. This process of acceptance has taken several centuries, however. Previous research on the subject of tattooing has focused on sociological and ethnological aspects, with art- and image-related studies largely put to one side. This paper examines - from a cultural and historical perspective - the various development periods that tattooing has undergone, while assessing changes related to the tattooists' craft, their image repertoire, and influences from other cultures that have shaped their work. Today's tattooists have more in common with artists, creating "living images" that are veritable masterpieces. Following on from this, the paper explores the role of tattoos in contemporary art, and the extent to which tattooing can be said to be a genre in its own right. Beyond its status as body decoration and fashion phenomenon, recent decades have seen tattooing gain more prevalence in modern-art circles and on the global art scene. In the 1920s, the painters of the New Objectivity (in German: Neue Sachlichkeit) movement dealt with the motif of tattoos in their work. The mid-1960's saw the medium of skin gain further importance among creators of Body Art. What links all these artists is their use of tattooing as a way to express their own thoughts, opinions and feelings in their artwork.