Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Brief and Partial History of Tainted Love

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1961. Not the painting.

From the wires:
A woman has been arrested on suspicion of kissing a painting by American artist Cy Twombly and smudging the bone-white canvas with her lipstick, French judicial officials said Saturday.

Police said they arrested the woman after she kissed the work on Thursday. She is to be tried in a court in the southern city of Avignon on Aug. 16 for "damage to a work of art," judicial officials said.

The painting, which is worth an estimated $2 million, was on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Avignon. It is part of an exhibition slated to run at the museum through Sept. 30. Officials did not provide further details on the painting.

Jake and Dinos Chapman, from "Insult to Injury," 2003.

And, ages ago (2003), from the Guardian....
Two years ago, the Chapmans bought a complete set of what has become the most revered series of prints in existence, Goya's Disasters of War. It is a first-rate, mint condition set of 80 etchings printed from the artist's plates. In terms of print connoisseurship, in terms of art history, in any terms, this is a treasure - and they have vandalised it.

"We had it sitting around for a couple of years, every so often taking it out and having a look at it," says Dinos, until they were quite sure what they wanted to do. "We always had the intention of rectifying it, to take that nice word from The Shining, when the butler's trying to encourage Jack Nicholson to kill his family - to rectify the situation," interrupts Jake.

"So we've gone very systematically through the entire 80 etchings," continues Dinos, "and changed all the visible victims' heads to clowns' heads and puppies' heads."

The "new" work is called Insult to Injury. The exhibition in which it will be shown for the first time, at Modern Art Oxford, is called The Rape of Creativity.

Far muddier are the conflicting reports that Patricia Cornwell, in her obsession to prove that painter Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, destroyed some of Sickert's paintings to test her theory. The merits of Cornwell's arguments notwithstanding (even reader-reviewers on Amazon largely hold the book in contempt), a CBC article in 2003 paraphrased a curator asserting that Cornwell had destroyed "up to thirty paintings," "tearing them apart" in her search for evidence. Once Cornwell donated 82 works by Sickert to the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, however, the Art Newspaper did slightly better, quietly paring the tally down to one work which "it is said" (unattributed) was destroyed, and also does Cornwell the service of mentioning that she denies having done it.

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