According to Hyperallergic, there was some commotion at the Whitney Museum of American Art this afternoon when an unassuming man splashed what appeared at the time to be red paint onto a wall of its Jeff Koons: A Retrospective. The floor was cleared of visitors so that the wall could be swiftly repainted and luckily, no work was affected or damaged. However, as the story unfolds, it appears that the “paint” may have actually been blood.
The vandalism was signed with the name “Monty Cantsin.” This name, according to Wikipedia, is “a multiple-use name that anyone can adopt,” thereby collaboratively contributing to the identity of the name. The “X” pattern created on the Whitney wall is a trademark of performance artist Istvan Kantor, one of the earliest members of Neoism – an underground philosophical subcultural of artistic performance that is also associated with the Cantsin name.
- Istvan Kantor being escorted out of the National Gallery of Canada (photo source: istvankantor.com)
Art vandalism is far from new. It’s happened for years – as acts of protest, disagreements with an artist’s point of view, or simply as a way to achieve, as Warhol put it, their 15 minutes of fame. Michelangelo’s Pietà sculpture is behind glass because a man took a hammer to it in 1972. A Rothko painting was marked with permanent marker, the Mona Lisa was doused in acid, and a meat cleaver was taken to a Velázquez painting. More recently, one of Ai Weiwei’s vases was shattered by another artist who was protesting the exhibiting museum with a claim that the establishment doesn’t support local artists.
Kantor’s act doesn’t seem to be related to Koons. According to the portfolio of work on his website, his performances tend to be more closely related to anti-institutional sentiments. The site also includes a link to “blood campaign” performances, picturing “X”’s that match the pictures taken today. He also clearly exhibits pride in having been banned by many museums before. Perhaps he can now add the Whitney to his list.
More as the story unfolds…
(Top photo — detail from photo by: Antoine Lutens; photo source: New York Times)