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Detail of Michael D’Antuono’s “A Tale of Two Hoodies (Racism)” (screenshot by the author via KRNV)

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.

Art Analysis Assignment Gets an F

Elizabeth Clausen, a teacher at Dayton High School in Nevada, is serving a temporary suspension after asking her students to articulate their opinions of the Michael D’Antuono painting “A Tale of Two Hoodies (Racism).” The work in question, rendered in a Norman Rockwell–like aesthetic, shows a police officer wearing a KKK hood and pointing a gun at a young black boy, who’s wearing a white hoodie and offering the cop candy. Behind them, a US flag is torn open to reveal a Confederate flag underneath it.

Verdict: The real problem with this exercise is that the artwork is just awful — there’s nothing else to say about it.

Bummed Bieber Moons Mayan Monument

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber was ejected from the Mayan site in the Mexican resort town of Tulum after allegedly showing up drunk, attempting to climb an ancient building, insulting National Institute of Anthropology and History workers, and pulling down his pants in protest of demands that he behave himself.

Verdict: Justin Bieber is the worst.

Stepmom Made Off with the Monet, Dealer’s Sons Say

Marc and Andre Salz, the sons of late art dealer Sam Salz, claim their stepmother, Janet Traeger-Salz, stole three paintings worth millions that were due to them as heirs — pieces by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir — from their father’s estate.

Verdict: Let the Renoir go, guys; don’t you know nobody likes his work anymore?

Ka-Nefer-Nefer Never Going Home

The US Department of Justice has abandoned attempts to restitute the 3,200-year-old mummy mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer, an object that disappeared from Egypt decades ago and wound up in the collection of the St. Louis Art Museum. The museum bought the mask — which disappeared from a storage facility in Egypt between 1966 and 1973 — from a New York antiquities dealer for $499,000 in 1998.

Verdict: Big mistake — the Midwest is not immune to the curse of the mummy.

Reality TV Glorifies Grave Robbers

A scene from the first episode of ‘Battlefield Recovery’ (screenshot by the author via YouTube)

Archaeologists are accusing Britain’s Channel 5 of encouraging “grave-robbing” with the planned reality television program Battlefield Recovery, which follows amateur diggers excavating war graves and battle sites in eastern Europe. The series is believed to be a rebranded version of a show the National Geographic Channel scrapped two years ago following a similar uproar — that show was titled Nazi War Diggers.

Verdict: Whoever though rehabilitating a show called Nazi War Diggers was a good idea has dug his own professional grave.

Van Dyck Smugglers Snared

Two men were arrested in Istanbul and charged with smuggling a painting believed to be by Anthony van Dyck after attempting to sell it to undercover Turkish police officers. The work had allegedly hung on the walls of a family home in Georgia for 15 years, and the family that owned it, not knowing who it was by, agreed to sell it for $37,000 (though the two men only ended up paying them $7,000).

Verdict: The smugglers were wasting their time — van Dyck’s non-portrait works aren’t worth the canvas they’re painted on.

Ad to Blame for Street Art Vandalism

Australian street artist Ash Keating claims that the recent defacement of his mural in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a large tag was the result of a “snowball effect” set in motion when an insurance company put a vinyl advertisement banner over a portion of the mural.

Verdict: Right on — advertising is an infinitely more insidious sort of vandalism than tagging.

Mohammad’s Footprint on Walkabout

Thieves stole a precious stone engraved with a 1,400-year-old footprint left by the Prophet Mohammad, the founder of Islam, from a mosque in the city of Patna in the Indian state of Bihar.

Verdict: It doesn’t get much lower than footprint theft.

Ad Agency Quits Industry Group in Plagiarism Row

The Kuala Lumpur advertising agency Dentsu Utama, which is embroiled in a very public plagiarism scandal over an award-winning poster design, resigned from the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia in protest of having two of its designs disqualified from the group’s Kancil Awards.

Verdict: Better to resign before being ejected.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...

3 replies on “Crimes of the Art”

  1. I’d tell the teacher that George Zimmerman is Hispanic, not white. And that he was never a cop. And that Trayvon Martin was not a child, but older than the students in her class. Besides having a terrible sense of judgment, it’s alarming this woman teaches U.S. history.

  2. The point of having students discuss art is not the content of the artwork itself, but getting kids to talk so that they can literate their thoughts. Content that stirs up controversy gets their attention. If you’re a teacher, and you have a population of black students, it can get students to talk about personal experiences. This is the goal of education. Students can disagree with something too. That is also academic literacy. What is wrong with this content, is that it is inappropriate because of the violent subject matter and the way it is promoting propaganda. But, asking students to express opinions about it isn’t wrong if you are looking at it from a perspective of education.

  3. Hi Benjamin, Love the article — very funny, but wondering why you think Michael D’Antuono’s work is “awful”. Maybe not everyone’s style, but certainly thought provoking and good for creating dialog on art as activism. I just curated a show, currently at the Phoenix Gallery, NYC that includes his work. It’s titled “What’s Right, What’s Left: Democracy in America”. Hope you can check it out — it’s up till the 30th or check out the online gallery.

    Twenty-three works by twenty-one artists are installed in the gallery portraying themes of democracy, race, women’s rights, LGBT issues, privacy and surveillance, the 1%
    and money, gun rights, immigration, environment, and other political issues and
    processes.

    http://www.gutfreundcornettart.com/gallery-whats-right-whats-left-democracy-in-america.html

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