October 14, 2007

Art attacks

Why do grown people physically attack art? In the Chicago Tribune, art critic Alan G. Artner examines the motivations behind art vandalism. "At one end stands Laszlo Toth, the unemployed geologist who in 1972 strode into St. Peter's Basilica and struck Michelangelo's 'Pieta' 15 times with a hammer. At the other is Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan who issued the decree against graven images that in 2001 brought down two colossal ancient Buddhas in Bamiyan....Each act is, obviously, a transgression of law, but perhaps more important, a going beyond the limits of behavior imposed by museums or galleries, which are secular equivalents of places of worship. To shout there is a violation, to assault another person a sacrilege, but to attack an artwork is the ultimate infringement as the art is unresisting and on view because of tacitly agreed upon benefits not just to one individual but the many....Whenever private collections have been broken into, the aim generally has been thievery, not destruction. So even in more extreme examples of derangement, the act was committed for all to see, as a public transgression, assertion, protest or performance." Read more.