Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sustainability Conversations ... Defacing Art

Numerous acts of vandalism against art exhibits are known and some objects, such as Mona Lisa, Night Watch and The Little Mermaid, have been intentionally damaged several times. In most cases, the artworks were restored. Restorations were costly and time-consuming and in many cases were followed by shielding the artwork from future attacks.

Some other works that have been defaced in recent years.

Night Watch, Rembrandt

The Dutch master's painting - one of the most famous paintings at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam - has been vandalised three times. In 1911, when a former navy chef attacked the piece with a knife. Then in 1975, William de Rijk repeatedly slashed the painting claiming Jesus made him do it. The work was vandalised again in 1990 when an escaped psychiatric patient sprayed it with sulphuric acid.

The Little Mermaid, Edward Erikson

The statue of the character from Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale is a major tourist attraction in Copenhagen, Denmark. Being vandalised numerous times since the 1960s,  beheaded twice, blasted off her base with explosives, it has also been daubed on the figure a number of times. Officials have considered moving it several metres offshore

Mona Lisa, Leonardo Da Vinci

Da Vinci's most famous painting is one of the best-protected artworks. But, before it was encased in bulletproof glass, the work was severely damaged in an acid attack. In 1974, a woman sprayed red paint at the artwork while it was on loan at the Tokyo National Museum, protesting its policy for not allowing disabled people into the exhibition. Three years ago it was threatened again when a Russian woman threw a mug at the painting.

Rokeby Venus, Velazquez 

In 1914, suffragette Mary Richardson took a meat cleaver to the Spanish artist's 1647-1651 creation at London's National Gallery. She slashed it seven times.
(Source: Read more here)

The Spear, Brett Murray

The Spear is a painting by South African artist, Brett Murray. It depicts South African President Jacob Zuma in a pose reminiscent of Lenin, with his genitals exposed. The painting triggered a defamation lawsuit by Zuma's party, the African National Congress (ANC), and was vandalised on 22 May 2012.

Restoration of dignity through Art

This week we pay tribute to Diana Ferrus (born 29 August 1953, Worcester, Western Cape) She is a South African writer, poet and storyteller.  Ferrus is best known for her poem about Sarah Baartman, a South African woman taken to Europe under false pretenses and paraded as a curiosity. 

She wrote the poem in 1998 while studying at Utrecht University. The popularity of this poem is widely believed to be responsible for the return of Bartmann's remains to South Africa. The poem was published into a French law.


Is it possible to vandalise graffiti?

Numerous works by Banksy have been "defaced" or destroyed. Several of the prolific street artist's "installations" have been painted over by council workers or building owners, many of whom were unaware the graffiti was worth thousands of pounds.


Vandalism that ended on a positive note

This week on the iStart2 Show we chat to Barend La Grange who went to the Goodman Gallery and defaced The Spear by artist Brett Murray. We look back at the incident and chat about his travels into Africa and how he contributes to a more sustainable world by fighting racism and building bridges into Africa. Don't miss what this positive man has to say!

Keitu Gwangwa & Pierre du Toit host the iStart2 Show on Thursdays at 17h30. Radio Today broadcasts on 1485 MW (AM) in greater Johannesburg and countrywide on ‪#‎DStv‬ audio channel 869.

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