It was reported yesterday that someone walked into the Menil Collection in Houston, TX on June 13, put a stencil against Picasso’s “Woman in a Red Arm Chair,” and used gold spray paint to spray on a bull and the word “Conquista” on the face of the sitter. And then he just walked away. I never have understood art vandalism in any capacity, but I really don’t understand this particular act because the vandal (or rather vandals, since I think the videographer was in on it) included the word “Conquista” in the stencil, as though the painting is something to be conquered. Or perhaps the sitter is someone to be conquered. Apparently, the videographer just happened to run into the vandal a couple days later (according to this story, which says the vandal is an “up-and-coming” artist), and he said that he did it to honor Picasso. This is not an honorable act. It is an act of defilement. The vandal wanted to “conquer” the object by demonstrating his power to walk right into a museum and spray paint a priceless work of art before just walking away. He did it for attention, since he is “up-and-coming,” after all. And seriously, where was security when this happened? How did they let him just walk out of the building? And how could the videographer NOT have been in on it when he said: “I thought it was pretty cool how he walked up to the painting without fear, sprayed painted it and walked off”?
UPDATE 6/23/2012: According to this story, Crime Stoppers in Houston have identified the vandal and have charged him with criminal mischief and felony graffiti. He has not yet been apprehended.