Saturday, June 14, 2008

Art Vandals

As artists, we tend to be so very trusting - of the curator, of the museum or gallery - of the public. We're ecstatic when our work is sought for or juried into an exhibition and usally send off our work with only a nagging concern about its safe arrival during transit, finally breathing a deep sigh of relief when it arrives safely at its destination.

More and more often, however, art is being deliberately vandalized while on exhibit. I've just learned that only this past week an artwork of a well known textile artist has been slashed beyond any hope of repair while on exhibit at a museum. I also know about another artist's work being slashed to steal its embellishments (also while on exhibit at a museum). Mind you, these were not politically themed works.

The brazenness with which these acts are committed and the utter contempt for both the art and the artist which they symbolize are unfathomable to me - nonetheless, this is the world in which we live and these are the risks we take. Even the best and most reputable venues may not have enough staffing, surveillance equipment, or barriers in place to prevent such occurrences. Bottom line - we must each think long and hard about each exhibit opportunity presented to us, we must ask pointed questions about security, then carefully weigh the downsides as well as the benefits before we accept.

Following is a list of articles on the subject that demonstrate how rampart this problem has become for the art world in general.

Artist Checklist: Claims for Damaged Work - SNAG - Society of North American Goldsmiths - This is a resource that every exhibiting artist should know about - it provides detailed information about what to do if your art is damaged during shipping or while on exhibit.

Why Art Vandals Strike - Katrina Kuntz

It Wasn't Like This When I Brought It In - Cindy Ellen Hill - an article about gallery damage to a consigned artwork

Carnegie Museum of Art Painting Vadalized by Employee

Art Institute Painting Slashed - Charles Storch,0,1173003.story

Damaged-art Claims Rise at Overcrowded Museums - M. P. McQueen

Dutch Vandal Slashes Museums' Confidence - Carol Vogel

Unlucky 13 - this article is about the vandalization of 13 artworks - John Hind

3 Arrested in Art Museum Vandalism [Milwaukee Museum of Art] - John Diedrich

Art as a Target for Vandals: The Cost of Freedom - Michael Kimmelman

5 People Face Preliminary Charges in Vandalism of Monet Painting at Paris Museum

Why Vandalize Art?

Effects of Alcohol Intake and Induced Frustration upon Art Vandalism

And let us not forget that incident at Houston when a person with whom the artist had a dispute threw bleach onto her work


Kyra said...


Thanks for this important information for those of us who do exhibit and do trust the museum showing our works.

Best, Kyra

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn) said...

Kyra, unfortunately this is now the state of the world in which we live and the reality we must face as artists. Its just so senseless and disheartening. How on earth do we prepare ourselves to cope with that type of loss? Our art is literally an extension of our selves.