Crimes of the Art is a weekly survey of artless criminals’ cultural misdeeds. Crimes are rated on a highly subjective scale from one “Scream” emoji — the equivalent of a vandal tagging the exterior of a local history museum in a remote part of the US — to five “Scream” emojis — the equivalent of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist.
Mural of Same-Sex Couples Vandalized in San Francisco
A mural that Manuel Paul painted on the exterior of San Francisco’s Galería de la Raza, which depicts two same-sex couples and a transgender man, has been repeatedly attacked by vandals since its completion earlier this month. “We’ve had endless emails and phone calls from as far away as Arizona and Texas telling us not to give up,” said Galería de la Raza director Ani Rivera. “We know there’s a community in need of this, the visibility of LGBT Latinos.”
Verdict: If such a mural isn’t even safe in San Francisco, we’re in trouble.
Crooked Banker’s Basquiat Brazil-Bound
The Jean-Michel Basquiat painting “Hannibal” (1981) and a Roman Togatus statue that once belonged to Banco Santos founder Edemar Cid Ferreira — currently serving a 21-year sentence in Brazil for committing crimes against the national financial system and money laundering — were repatriated from the US to Brazil. The artworks are the latest items returned to Brazil as part of an ongoing effort to seize any goods Ferreira, his family, friends, or business associates may have bought with funds illegally obtained through Banco Santos.
Verdict: Using Basquiats to launder money is so 1990s.
Painting That Failed to Sell at Auction Successfully Stolen by Supposed Super
A man posing as a building superintendent signed for and stole Harold Wong’s “Calming Freshness,” a painting valued at $40,000 that failed to sell at Bonhams last year (where it had an estimate of $19,000–32,000). The work was in the process of being returned, via FedEx, to Manhattan real estate developer Bill Brodsky.
Verdict: Those who can’t buy at auction dupe the FedEx guy.
Shots Fired, Sans Permits
Last month the Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar fired 21 shots at paint cans placed alongside blank canvases in Geneva’s Bärtschi & Cie gallery as part of a performance. While the the gallery’s neighbors had been warned, the dealers failed to procure the necessary permits, and now gallery partner Barthélémy Pralong has been summoned by Switzerland’s Arms, Explosives, and Authorizations Service.
Verdict: Let this be a cautionary tale for all firearm-inclined artists — do your gunshot art in the US, where it’s been an accepted art form since 1971.
Sculptural Bench Smashed
A maintenance worker in Connecticut used a hammer to destroy “Corbu Bench,” a sculpture by Jim Osman that was installed along the coastline as part of the annual public art exhibition The Sculpture Mile, and then tossed the remnants of the piece in a dumpster. The worker responsible for the destruction told his supervisor he mistook the sculpture for something that some skateboarders had left behind.
Verdict: Even a newbie skater knows you can’t grind on a sculpture covered in grass.
Auschwitz Thieves Fined
Two 17-year-old British boys who stole objects from the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in Poland have been fined and sentenced to a year of probation after being arrested and spending the night in a youth jail.
Verdict: At least they didn’t further desecrate Auschwitz by posing for naked photos.
Belarus Blocks Culture Blog
Verdict: Overzealous censorship of the media remains the most effective way to damage national interests.
Sacred Art Swiped from Swedish Churches Seized
Eleven wooden engravings and one wooden chest have been recovered from the home of a 63-year-old man in Spain’s Canary Islands. The objects are among 46 total artifacts that went missing from churches in Sweden earlier this year, and the man was arrested in May.
Verdict: They say the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, but the stolen Swedish engravings fall mainly on the Canary Islands.
Windy City Art Thieves Blow Through Festival
Thieves struck some 30 booths at Chicago’s recent Gold Coast Art Fest in an overnight heist — though all the cash and most expensive artworks had been preemptively removed from the site, so the most valuable piece of loot lost may have been a mountain bike.
Verdict: When art thieves try so hard and still come up empty-handed…
Join Hyperallergic for an online conversation with cultural organizer and curator La Tanya S. Autry on February 1 at 7pm (EST).
This week, the Tonga eruption as captured from space, Boston gets a big gift of Dutch and Flemish painting, 30 years of New Queer Cinema, an important Marcel Breuer house is demolished, and much more.
At this free online summit, hear from architects Tadao Ando and Lesley Lokko; artist Himali Singh Soin; author Amitav Ghosh; design studio Formafantasma; and more.
Being bowled over by an unknown artist’s first one-person show does not happen often but when it does, it renews your faith that the art world is not just about buzz and hype.
Surrealist images of a Rice Krispies box or Yukon Gold potato explore how data is transformed into the visual language called art.
This immersive video installation utilizes waterscape scenes to speak about concepts such as existence, intimacy, healing, and aquatic ecology.
What is wonderful about the online photography exhibition What Have We Stopped Hiding? is that one is given entrée to the internal monologue of the artists featured in the show.
Self-taught artists were invited to exhibit, and sell, their fuzzy stacks of pancakes and tasseled tapestries.
Curator, educator, and transdisciplinary artist Jova Lynne is coming from MOCAD to lead Temple Contemporary exhibitions and public programs.
Our culture seems obsessed with the artist/model relationship, portrayed in countless movies and narratives as a relationship that is lustful and scandalous.
Creator Art Spiegelman said he was “baffled” by the decision and called the school board’s behavior “Orwellian.”
The winners of this year’s Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest prove that life is indeed better under the sea.