Last night, a graffiti writer identified by the New York Times as Christopher Johnson, 33, of Manhattan, vandalized a fourth-floor wall of the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Art. According to the Times, the NYPD said he was “arrested on charges of criminal mischief, making graffiti, possession of a graffiti instrument, and criminal nuisance … He was taken into custody by police after he struggled with the museum’s security guards.”
Zoë Lescaze of ArtNews, who was at the scene, broke the news. She also reported the strange mood last night at the Whitney:
Beyond the graffiti incident, there was a generally apocalyptic atmosphere to the late-night scene. Two young girls navigated the artist’s hardcore “Made in Heaven” series with unsettling nonchalance. Someone opened an emergency exit on the second floor and the shrill beeps joined drunken voices echoing through the stairwell. A woman wearing a wedding dress drifted past “Hulk (Organ)” (2004–14) like it was a roadside attraction in the desert on the way to her Vegas chapel. Only a very skeletal crew of museum staff appeared to be on hand. It almost felt as though the building was going to be torn down after this one last blowout.
This is the second major act of vandalism at the blockbuster show. Back on August 20, Istvan Kantor also illegally painted on the wall of the retrospective using ink and blood.
A video of his action, which doesn’t appear to have damaged any of the art, was posted 13 hours ago on Instagram by J. Miller (aka @so_outlandish) with the words “witnessed the tag”:
witnessed the tag #Whitney #JeffKoons