Sunday, April 21, 2024

A Painting That Doesn’t Belong

Recently there has been an interesting story out of Munich Germany.

The first report came out in the Suddeutsche Zeitung earlier this month. It occurred in February and was only discovered by a journalist through a police report. A technical worker and an aspiring artist at Der Pinakothek der Moderne Museum had slipped his own work of art into an exhibition of art chosen by the curators.

The exhibition called “Glitch” was about errors and malfunctions in art and the art of Interference. The catalog noted it was to “uncover normative orders and sociopolitical disparities” and “make visible what is invisible”. My “art speak” is not up to untangling that statement! In any case, “insiders” said that it was not just a case of a technician/artist trying for his fifteen minutes of fame, but rather a critique of elitism in the art world by one who helps make an exhibition possible but remains invisible. Here is an image of the offending work of art.

It seems the painting was hung in the show after hours and by the next day the painting had been removed. The artist’s name has still not been revealed.

Clearly, the museum wanted to play it down as a hoax and that is why the caper was only revealed two months later by the newspaper’s sleuths. Although the incident had been reported to the police based on damage to government property because the perpetrator had made two holes in the wall to hang his picture, the complaint was later withdrawn. However, the technician was fired and barred from employment with all state painting museums for three years.

As they say, “there is nothing new under the sun” and though this is not a frequent occurrence it is not unprecedented. In fact, it happened just last year when an artist, Danai Emmanouilidis, slipped one of her works of art into a show at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn. The exhibition was called “Who We Are: Reflecting a Country of Immigration”. The curators only realized the addition when they took down the exhibition and found they had an extra painting on their hands.

It turns out that the museum in Bonn had a different attitude from the museum in Munich. The administration let it be known that they were not upset and would like to know the identity of the artist, promising that there would be no consequences. In any case, the artist caused no lasting damage to the wall since she used double-sided tape. She did eventually reveal herself and managed to sell her painting at auction for Euros equaling $4,000!

If you think about it, you will realize who the most obvious artist would be to slip a work of art onto a museum wall…Banksy. He, however, was not satisfied with adding his art in just one museum. Between 2003 and 2005 Banksy inserted works in quite a number of museums in London, Paris, and New York. Each, as is his wont, had a message. Early on during this two-year period he entered the Tate in London dressed as a pensioner (an old, retired person) and found a blank space in a gallery where he hung a painting in the spirit of the artist Constable and put police tape over it. He called it Crimewatch UK Has Ruined the Countryside for All of Us. He said of it in part, “The amount of paranoia and fear about violent crime and pedophilia makes mine a more accurate drawing of the English landscape we actually live in."

Bansky also placed an object with a label and fake inventory number in the British Museum. It took several days until Museum personnel realized it. The label refers to the “post-catatonic period” and “man venturing towards the out-of-town hunting grounds”. Do notice the shopping cart in the image.

In 2004 he hung this parody of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. You can read his reasoning under the image.

There are many more examples since Bansky hit four museums in New York City alone. This one titled “Graffiti Lord” he placed in the Brooklyn Museum. It represents a traditional 18th-century depiction of an aristocratic soldier but this one is depicted holding a spray paint can in front of anti-war graffiti messages.

These actions have been called hoaxes, pranks, and crimes, but, in any case, they make an interesting commentary on the art world.

1 comment:

  1. I love this edition of "Missives"!! Thank you!!