More than Painting 101

As some people may have heard both the Lincoln Memorial and the National Cathedral were vandalized this past week. As a current DC resident this was quite the news issue, as it should be. The idea of art vandalism is kind of crazy and something I had never really looked into before. However now that I’ve spent some quality time with Google machine I am really surprised by the magnitude of the art vandalism world. Allow me to shed some witty light on this subject…

2011. Washington, DC: Susan Burns, having previously arrested for attempting to destroy a Gauguin painting, entered the National Gallery of Art and tried to destroy a Matisse. While there was some slightly psychotic banter about how the paintings were corrupting the youth or were homosexual in nature or just seemingly not her taste, there is really no real reason why she went all WWE on the canvas. The crucial statement was by one of the cops who said that in comparison to the homicide and other problems in the city, damaging some art is “really not so bad”.

2011. Houston, TX: A Picasso painting was spray painted by a vandal while on display in a Houston museum. It was all caught on YouTube. Yes, now can you not only watch random high school girls apply drugstore makeup and watch drunk frat boys try to jump off balconies into swimming pools, but you can also watch random criminal activities as well. Fortunately the painting was rushed away to be repaired and is now perfectly fine. Unfortunately the museum is reviewing their security measures and may add glass or barriers in front of paintings. Who doesn’t love going to a museum and being treated like you are a dog on an electric collar?


2009. Paris, France: A woman chucked a coffee mug at the Mona Lisa. That’s pretty much the whole story. She was angry at the French and threw her souvenir from the gift shop at one of the most recognizable paintings on the planet. I wish there was a better punch line there… really she’s just crazy.

I guess this draws into question the importance we place on art as a society. If we view every single piece of art as a treasure that has changed the future of mankind than I guess we are submitting ourselves to observing it from a safe distance between 5 and 855 feet (after all you may sneeze on it and ruin it… let’s not take any chances). But then, if the counter is true and art is “just art”, then I guess we aren’t allowed to really get that upset with someone throwing a coffee cup at it. Now as an avid coffee drinker I would have a different problem with it, but that’s inconsequential. While minds that are much greater and more intense than my own dissect this issue, I am going to go see if my mom kept any of my old elementary school paintings and see how much bulletproof glass costs. I will report back with my findings.