In The Guardian Laura Barnett reports that sometimes visitors damage artwork, but more likely gallery staff are to blame. “Incidents of damage involving gallery visitors are few and far between; works of art stand a far greater chance of being destroyed at the hands of curators, picture handlers or cleaners. Most of the major galleries have had to issue shame-faced apologies for breakages at one time or another. Four years ago, a rubbish bag which formed part of an installation by Gustav Metzger, entitled Recreation of First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art, was innocently gathered up by a cleaner at Tate Britain and thrown into a crusher. In 2001, a delicate shell-shaped glass sculpture by the US artist Dale Chihuly, valued at £35,000, was smashed by a contractor setting up for an evening function at the Victoria and Albert museum in London. And in 2000, a Lucian Freud drawing, worth £100,000 and still in its packing case, was accidentally put through a shredder at Sotheby’s auction house….’The kind of incident where people fall across a cordon in a gallery is very unusual,’ Robert Read, a fine art underwriter at the specialist insurers Hiscox, says. “Far more common is works being wrongly packed, dropped, or left on the tarmac when a plane gets diverted. If you left a painting out on the runway in Mumbai during monsoon season, for instance, you would have a problem. Sometimes, of course, the circumstances in which a work of art gets wrecked are far more prosaic. Consider for a moment the case of the millionaire casino owner and art collector Steve Wynn. In October 2006, Wynn was showing off Picasso’s “Le Rêve” to friends in his Las Vegas office, a masterpiece he had just agreed to sell for £70m, when he put his elbow through the canvas. He swore – I bet the woman at the Royal Academy swore, too.” Read more.
Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.