Assassination of world famous paintings
Some groups who regard themselves as “justice” perform meaningless actions one after another in the “theater” space in the form of events, through stylized content and repeated methods, and create momentum in a pure and empty reciprocation. until failure.
On October 14, 2022, in the British National Gallery, Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece “Sunflower” was splashed with tomato soup by people from the “Stop Oil” organization. At the same time, they also used super glue to stick their palms to the wall, and through this method of protest, they prevented the security personnel from dragging them away from the scene too quickly. Also on May 30, 2022, Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” collected in the Louvre was thrown by a man in a wheelchair disguised as an old woman. cake. In fact, as early as 1974, when this painting was exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum in Japan, a disabled woman sprayed red ink on the protective glass to protest the museum’s policy on the disabled. In 2009, a Russian woman threw a ceramic cup at the painting, which eventually shattered after hitting the protective glass, leaving the painting undamaged. This was because she was angry that France had rejected her citizenship application.
As for Rembrandt’s masterpiece “The Night Watch”, it was damaged in different ways three times in the 20th century. The worst damage occurred in 1975, when The Night Watch was slashed with a knife by a mentally ill patient, causing it to require extensive restoration. In 2019, the impact of the knife marks forced conservationists to undertake another round of restoration. In 1911, an unemployed Navy chef tried to cut open the painting with a knife. In 1990, another unemployed person threw acid on it, though the damage was minimal.
Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece “Sunflowers” was splashed with tomato soup by the “Stop Oil” organization.
Such actions have a long tradition. As early as 1914, in the National Gallery of London, feminist Mary Richardson used a meat cleaver to cut Diego Velázquez’s 17th-century masterpiece “Mirror Former Rokeby Venus hacked seven times in protest of arrest of feminist leader Emmeline Pankhurst. “I tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythology in protest of the government’s destruction of the most beautiful figure in modern history, Mrs Pankhurst,” she said in the statement.
From the poisonous hands of “our own people”
Don’t think that such actions are all from lunatics who don’t understand art. In 1997, performance artist Alexander Brenner painted a A green dollar sign. Brener later defended his actions, explaining that he was an artist, and he sparked a debate in Amsterdam about “what is art” and “what is ‘terrorism'”. In 1974, when Picasso’s “Guernica” was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the famous New York art dealer Tony Shafrazi (Tony Shafrazi) spray-painted “Kill all lies” on the painting. text to protest Nixon’s pardon for American soldier William Calley for the My Lai massacre. “I’m an artist and I want to be honest,” Shafrazi yelled as he was led away by police, according to The New York Times. Shafrazi, who runs Francis Bacon, Keith Haring and artworks by artists such as David LaChapelle, Haring later said: “The fact that Shafrazi believed in protest against war and was determined enough to stand up to the unthinkable onslaught from the art world, I Respect that.”
In 2012, American abstract painter Mark Rothko’s 1958 work “Black on Maroon” (Black on Maroon) was exhibited at Tate Modern in London. to destruction. This work is one of a series of murals that Rothko created for the Four Seasons restaurant, and it is also one of his favorite paintings. However, the artist Wlodzimierz Umaniec wrote “A potential of yellowism” on the corner of “Black and Maroon” with a black marker. Vorodimirz claimed to have created the genre of “yellowism”, and wrote in this work that “this is one of the 12 works of yellowism”. Before his arrest, he defended himself in an interview with the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), saying that “art allows us to accept what someone has done and use it to convey new information.” In time, the work was restored and re-exhibited in 2014.
In addition to peer “vandals”, artists themselves can also start with their own works. For example, the artist Banksy’s 2006 work “Girl Holding a Balloon” was sold at Sotheby’s London in 2018 for 1.1 million pounds. However, the painting disappeared seconds after the hammer fell. Dropped out of the box and was torn to shreds. Both the auction house and the audience were surprised. Currently “Girl with a Balloon” exists in a partially destroyed state, becoming another work, which Banksy named “Love in the Trash Can”.
In 1996, Canadian art student Jubal Brown came to MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and vomited blue liquid over a Mondrian abstract painting. A few months earlier, he had sprayed red against a Raoul Dufy painting at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Canada. Fortunately, neither painting was substantially damaged. Brown seemed proud of his protests, which he said were aimed at subverting “bourgeois” culture. He originally planned a “trilogy”, the third involving the “regurgitation” of yellow into an untitled piece, but that never came to fruition.
Even in recent years, similar incidents have emerged one after another. In 2021, at the Yeltsin Center in Yekaterinburg, Russia. A guard uses ballpoint pen to add two eyes to a painting by the modernist artist Anna Leporskaya. This time museum staff were the vandals, and the museum did not report the vandalism to the police until two weeks later. In 2022, the security guard named Aleksandr Vasiliev was fined. In the interview, he discussed how his service in the wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya had severely affected his physical and mental health, claiming that he was egged on by a group of teenagers to destroy the painting, saying: “They gave me a pen and I I drew the eyes, and I thought it was a drawing of them when they were young!”
It is conceivable that some groups who regard themselves as “justice” are performing meaningless behaviors one after another in the form of events in the “theater” space, through stylized content and repeated methods, in a pure and empty reciprocating In the restless momentum, until it fails. As this “just” behavior tends to fanaticism, reality has not become ideal. Whether the performances of protests and boycotts have the power to reverse, or become mirrors that reflect themselves. For example, when some people think that the global environmental crisis needs to be improved by stopping the use of oil paints, how should food resources such as ketchup, mashed potatoes, and cream spilled be defined.
Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” was damaged three times in different ways in the 20th century. The most serious damage occurred in 1975, when “The Night Watch” was cut open with a knife by a mentally ill man, causing it to require extensive restoration.
In May 2022, Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” was thrown a piece of cake by a man disguised as an old woman.
In 2022, a guard added two eyes to a painting by the modernist artist Anna Lepolskaya with a ballpoint pen.
When Picasso’s “Guernica” was exhibited, New York art dealer Tony Shafrazi spray-painted the words “Kill all lies” on the painting.
These groups seem to be trying to subvert the conclusion and further “test” the museum and the audience. And the fact that there is no effective connection between the act of destruction and its goal, and therefore no ideal space for “war”, makes it all look like a pure and empty form.
Uncontrolled aggressiveness can distract the “perpetrator” from the event, or even deviate from the original purpose, but these actions do contain anger or strong appeals. Other participants were crazy art lovers or museum staff, and “ignorance” was one of the reasons for their actions.
Perhaps, these behaviors are originally a symbol of “rebellion”. This kind of rebellion is like vitality that cannot be disciplined, and we must find an outlet to release it. However, when it rises to the extreme state associated with the lack of game rules, it can’t find the direction of meaning in the end, and becomes a crazy event.
choosing a stage is important
In addition to the starting point, the form is undoubtedly an important part of this type of event. Selecting a public scene with sufficient influence as a “theatre” can make the effect of the event quickly ignite in a short time with the help of pure “continuous occurrence” and conflict tendencies. , undetermined expansion also becomes part of what implementers want.
And the “audience” of these events (whether it is the current real-time audience or the follow-up remote followers) seems to be “hostages” and included in the farce cycle.
No matter what the nature of the event is, we cannot avoid the information energy loaded by the event, just like a kind of light, which carries meaning beyond the event itself, even if it is so weak that it is not easy to detect, it will rub against us before we see it, resulting in Reflection, textual elaboration, attention to the demands of some organizations or individuals, and re-cognition of artists’ works are all direct fluctuations brought about by events.