art crimes and scandals

Title card for Loving Vincent movie, with Van Gogh portraits arranged on Van Gogh landscape of wheatfield

Loving Vincent

Some thoughts on the movie Loving Vincent . . . It is both spectacular and maddening. The plot is ridiculous: Armand Roulin, twenty-something son of the bushy-bearded postmaster whom Van Gogh painted so memorably, is tasked by his father with traveling to Paris in order to deliver Vincent’s final letter (to his brother, Theo). Armand […]

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Woman seated in front of misty landscape with mysterious smile and folded hands.

365 Days of Art: December 11 – Stolen Mona Lisa Recovered in Hotel Room, Séraphine Dies

December 11, 1913 By appointment, antiques dealer Signor Geri and director of the Uffizi Gallery Signor Poggi arrive at Leonardo Vincenzo’s Florence hotel room to inspect what Leonardo claims is the stolen Mona Lisa. Leonardo removes underwear, shoes, a shirt, and a false bottom from a trunk, to reveal the Mona Lisa. Geri and Poggi

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Woman seated in front of misty landscape with mysterious smile and folded hands.

365 Days of Art: December 10 – Art Thief Tries to Negotiate Return of Mona Lisa

December 10, 1913 A man enters Geri’s antique shop in Florence, and after waiting for the other customers to leave, announces that he is in possession of the stolen Mona Lisa. The man gives his name as Leonardo Vincenzo, and says he has the painting in his hotel room. He explains that he has stolen

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365 Days of Art: November 30 – National Portrait Gallery Censors AIDS Film

November 30, 2010 The National Portrait Gallery removes a film from the first-ever gay portraiture exhibition, Hide/Seek, after receiving complaints from a Catholic organization and members of Congress. The video, created by David Wojnarowicz, features footage of ants crawling on a crucifix, and is made in the heyday of the AIDS epidemic. It is a

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365 Days of Art: November 29 – Mona Lisa Thief Contacts Antiques Dealer

November 29, 1913 Two years after the theft of the Mona Lisa, the thief contacts an antiques dealer named Alfredo Geri. Geri has innocently placed an ad in several Italian newspapers to advertise his business as “a buyer at good prices of art objects of every sort.” The thief, who signs the letter as “Leonardo,”

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Fireworks appear as dots of light and haze in dark, smoky background.

365 Days of Art: November 26 – Whistler v. Ruskin Libel Trial Concludes

November 26, 1878 The two-day trial, filed by James Abbott McNeill Whistler against art critic John Ruskin, concludes. In July 1877, Ruskin writes a heavy-handed and extremely critical review of Whistler’s work in a group show, that causes Whistler to sue him for libel: For Mr. Whistler’s own sake, no less than for the protection

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NYC landscape and architecture depicted from different viewpoints, including absurdist details like a large toilet on top of a column, with female figure, body parts in trash can and a dress on a hanger.

365 Days of Art: November 16 – Frida Writes a Letter from US, AIDS Exhibition Opens (Under Duress) After Grant Partially Restored

November 16, 1933 Frida writes a letter to her friend Isabel Campos that she is “dreaming about my return to Mexico:” New York is very pretty and I feel better here than in Detroit, but in spite of this I am longing for Mexico…Yesterday we had snow for the first time…there will be nothing to

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Black cliffs flank white sandy beaches with blue surf.

365 Days of Art: November 15 – Homer is Published, O’Keeffe is Born, Bernstein Protests NEA, Vandal is Sentenced

November 15, 1862 Winslow Homer’s The Army of the Potomac-A Sharp-Shooter on Picket Duty a wood engraving based on a painting, is published in Harper’s Weekly. November 15, 1887 Georgia O’Keeffe is born. November 15, 1989 The composer Leonard Bernstein declines a National Medal of Arts, awarded to him by the White House, in protest

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Three similar paintings depict a man nearly enclosed by a transparent structure, which is situated within a larger empty room.

365 Days of Art: November 12 – Art Forger Convicted, Replica of David Installed on Roof as Originally Intended, Bacon Sets Auction Record

November 12, 1947 Han van Meegeren, one of the most famous art forgers ever, is convicted of fraud and sentenced to a just one year in prison. He never serves any time, since he dies of a heart attack on December 30, before going to prison. November 12, 2010 A fiberglass replica of David is

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A three-story tall, brightly painted metal mobile, with arms that swing, sits in a city plaza.

365 Days of Art: November 11 – Calder Dies, Vietnam Vet Shoots Avedon Photo

November 11, 1976 Alexander Calder dies. November 11, 1986 Ellis Nelson enters the Black Forest Inn in Minneapolis, pulls a gun from his coat, and shoots two holes in an original Richard Avedon photograph hanging on the wall. The bullets strike two of the subjects of the photo, women attending a Daughters of the American

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Organically abstract geometric shapes, some of which appear to have eyes, seem to cavort with more geometric shapes and lines.

365 Days of Art: November 10 – Frida and Diego Arrive in SF, NY Times Reports on Nazi Looting, Gorky Exhibits at the Whitney, Hockney Faxes an Artwork

November 10, 1930 Frida and Diego arrive in San Francisco, where he has mural commissions to work on. November 10, 1943 The New York Times reports “Unique Collection of Art Treasures Taken Away by Germans in Italy,” referring to the trucks carrying artwork for Goring’s birthday party. November 10, 1936 Arshile Gorky’s painting Organization is

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365 Days of Art: November 6 – NEA Withdraws Grant for AIDS Exhibition

November 6, 1989 The New York Times reports that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has cancelled a grant for a show about AIDS, called Witnesses: Against Our Vanishing. The withdrawal of funds reportedly stems from an essay in the catalogue that criticizes two members of Congress and a cardinal of the Catholic church, for their

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Two women restrain a man, while one beheads him.

365 Days of Art: October 29 – Tortured Witness Testifies Against Artemesia, George Luks Dies After Bar Fight, Art Forger Goes on Trial

October 29, 1612 The manuscript from the trial of Artemisia Gentileschi’s rapist shows that Artemisia’s studio assistant gives testimony against the victim, his boss…while being tortured. Nicolo Bedino, who ground and mixed colors for Artemisia, is stripped naked and hung from a rope while testifying that he had delivered letters from her to several men.

365 Days of Art: October 29 – Tortured Witness Testifies Against Artemesia, George Luks Dies After Bar Fight, Art Forger Goes on Trial Read More »

Beautiful woman in toga-like dress sits and gazes calmly.

365 Days of Art: October 25 – Picasso is Born, Krasner and Pollock Marry, Breton Excommunicates Matta for Affair with Gorky’s Wife

October 25, 1881 Picasso is born. Two fun facts about Picasso: his father was a drawing professor, and while most people think he couldn’t draw because of his focus on abstraction and Cubism, Picasso himself was excellent at drawing. October 25, 1945 Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock marry. October 25, 1948 André Breton excommunicates Matta

365 Days of Art: October 25 – Picasso is Born, Krasner and Pollock Marry, Breton Excommunicates Matta for Affair with Gorky’s Wife Read More »

365 Days of Art: October 8 – Serial Art Vandal Arrested After Attacking Rembrandts

October 8, 1977 Serial art vandal Hans Bohlmann is arrested, after vandalizing four paintings, including two Rembrandts, the day before. Bohlmann is known for targeting faces in his attacks, which I’m sure a psychologist would have plenty to say about. Unlike some vandals, Bohlmann also doesn’t limit himself to artwork; he’s also known for setting

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Expressive presentation of overlapping symbols such as flags, checkerboards, military ribbons, numbers and initials.

365 Days of Art: October 7 – Lover’s Death Inspires Hartley Portrait, Rothko Painting Vandalized

October 7, 1914 Marsden Hartley’s lover, Karl von Freyburg, dies in World War I; his death inspires Hartley to paint Portrait of a German Officer. October 7, 2012 Art vandal Wlodzimierz Umaniec uses indelible, dripping ink to scribble his name and a slogan (“12 a potential piece of yellowism”) on Rothko’s 1958 painting Black On Maroon

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365 Days of Art: October 6 – Archers Destroy Leonardo’s Clay Model, Velázquez Becomes Royal Painter

October 6, 1499 Louis XII of France invades Milan, and allows his archers to shoot target practice at Leonardo’s 25-foot clay model for an equestrian statue. For shame! The Duke of Milan commissions the statue in 1482 (that’s 17 years ago–see how slow Leonardo is?); he and Leonardo intend it to be the largest statue

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365 Days of Art: October 1 – Nazi Radio Vilifies Monuments Men

October 1, 1943 Nazi radio announces: The US President of the European Monuments and Art Treasures Committee, an organization consisting of thieves and Jews, said in a statement to the Press that a large number of maps are being distributed to US soldiers to enable them to trace artistic treasures easily. A well-known gangster has

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365 Days of Art: September 30 – Nazis Set Fire to Villa, Destroying Paintings, Glass Collection, and Documents

September 30, 1943 Nazi soldiers set fire to a villa outside of Naples, which temporarily houses the contents of the Filangieri Museum and State Archives of Naples. In addition to 85,978 historical documents, the fire destroys 44 paintings by Van Eyck, Boticelli, Chardin, and Pontormo, as well as a priceless collection of ceramic, glass, and

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365 Days of Art: September 27 – Munch Museum Celebrates Return of Damaged Paintings

September 27, 2006 Munch’s The Scream and Madonna go on view in a special five-day exhibition to celebrate their return to the Munch Museum–damages and all–after being stolen by masked gunmen two years earlier. Before conservation begins, 5,500 people view the damaged paintings.

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365 Days of Art: September 24 – Barnes Foundation Announces Plans to Move

September 24, 2002 The Barnes Foundation, possibly the best collection of Post-Impressionist works in the world, announces a petition to move from Merion, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. The need for a petition, and the reason this request rocks the art world so thoroughly, is because collector Albert C. Barnes has left his collection of personal favorites

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Ink sketches of birds flying, at three different angles.

365 Days of Art: September 22 – Leonardo Studies Birds, Michelangelo Seeks Payment, Artists Reject Pop Art Newcomer, Search Leads to Nazi Loot

September 22, 1507 Leonardo makes studies of birds in flight. September 22, 1510 Exactly halfway through painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, Michelangelo departs Florence, where he’d taken a break to visit his family, for Bologna to confront Pope Julius II about not being paid according to his contract. The two already have a long history

365 Days of Art: September 22 – Leonardo Studies Birds, Michelangelo Seeks Payment, Artists Reject Pop Art Newcomer, Search Leads to Nazi Loot Read More »

An abstract painting with light shapes against dark, hard-edged background shapes.

365 Days of Art: September 15 – Gorky Marries; David Struck by Hammer

September 15, 1941 Driving back home to New York from an exhibition in San Francisco, Arshile Gorky and Mougouch (Agnes Magruder) are married in Nevada. September 15, 1991 A 47-year old art vandal attacks Michelangelo’s David with a hammer. While declaring that a 16th-century painter’s model has given him orders to do so, he breaks

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Vivid paintings on columns and ceiling of long gallery in Vatican Museum.

365 Days of Art: September 14 – Hitler Issues Orders to Commandeer the Vatican’s Artworks; Vandal Slashes a Rembrandt

September 14, 1943 SS General Karl Wolff, Supreme Leader of All SS Troops and Police in Italy, receives the following instructions from Hitler: As soon as possible I want you and your troops to occupy the Vatican and Vatican City, as part of the German counter measures against this unspeakable “Badoglio treachery,” secure the Vatican’s

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Marble statue of David with his slingshot.

365 Days of Art: September 13 – Michelangelo Begins Carving, Childe Hassam Travels to Gloucester, Art Vandal Prepares to Attack, Boston MFA Exhibits Stolen Painting

September 13, 1501 About a month after signing the contract for his first commission, Michelangelo picks up his tools early in the morning and begins carving the statue of David. He will work on it for over two years. September 13, 1900 American Impressionist Childe Hassam arrives in Gloucester, Massachusetts to paint. The area is

365 Days of Art: September 13 – Michelangelo Begins Carving, Childe Hassam Travels to Gloucester, Art Vandal Prepares to Attack, Boston MFA Exhibits Stolen Painting Read More »

Landscape photo which eerily suggests blood-spatter in the snow, in the shape of a grave, or a cross.

365 Days of Art: September 8 – Ana Mendieta Falls to Her Death; Husband Carl Andre Arrested for Murder

September 8, 1985 Ana Mendieta dies at age 32, after falling from her 34th floor apartment in New York’s Greenwich Village; her husband, sculptor Carl Andre is charged with her murder. Though there are no eyewitnesses, the doorman and neighbors overhear a violent, drunken argument between the newlyweds, as well as a woman repeatedly screaming

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Young Apollinaire, with pipe and suit, sits on chair among paintings and African statuary.

365 Days of Art: September 7 – Apollinaire is Arrested for Theft of Mona Lisa

September 7, 1911 Seventeen days after the Mona Lisa is stolen without anyone noticing, police arrest the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. As a critic and surrealist, he’s suggested in the past that the Louvre should be burned down, and he rooms with someone who’s been stealing antiquities. He’s held for five days, during which time he

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Gaunt woman in bed with eyes closed, shrouded in a gauzy covering that partially obscures face.

365 Days of Art: September 5 – Monet Paints Wife on Deathbed, Oldenburg Protests Police Brutality

September 5, 1879 Monet’s wife Camille dies of cancer at age 32, and he paints a portrait of her on her deathbed. While Monet’s portrait and correspondence seem to show real feeling over her death, he doesn’t treat Camille very well while she’s alive. She gives birth to their first child alone and penniless, with

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365 Days of Art: September 4 – Thieves Steal 13 Paintings in Montreal

September 4, 1972 Thieves steal 18 paintings from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It is the largest art theft in North America until the Boston Museum of Fine Arts robbery almost 20 years later. They enter through the skylight, tie up the guards and steal a rare Rembrandt landscape (he usually paints portraits), two

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Portrait of 17th century man with ruff collar is ruined by a dark liquid dripping from face.

365 Days of Art: August 24 – Serial Art Attacker Strikes Rubens Portrait with Acid

August 24, 1977 Hans-Joachim Bohlmann, serial art attacker, damages the painting Archduke Albrecht by Rubens by assaulting it with acid. Still in the beginning of this career, he nevertheless starts out in a prolific way. A psychologist would have some fun noting that almost all of Bohlmann’s attacks are on the face and especially the

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Two masked thieves carrying paintings to getaway car in front of Munch Museum.

365 Days of Art: August 22 – The Scream is Stolen by Masked Men

August 22, 2004 Gun-wielding men in masks raid the Munch Museum in broad daylight and steal The Scream (one of several versions),as well as Munch’s Madonna. About seven months later, a suspect is arrested, but the paintings are still missing. For ten months, the museum is closed for a overhaul of security systems. The city

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Woman seated in front of misty landscape with mysterious smile and folded hands.

365 Days of Art: August 21 – Mona Lisa is Stolen, but Theft Goes Unnoticed

August 21, 1911 The Mona Lisa is stolen from the Louvre, but it takes 24 hours to notice that it is missing. What in the world?? Yes, guards, and visitors too apparently, believe that the famous painting has been officially removed for photographs or other legitimate museum business. The same visitor has to report his

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Newspaper collage of accounts of attack on Frank Lloyd Wright household.

365 Days of Art: August 15 – Employee Commits Mass Murder at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Estate

August 15, 1914 Frank Lloyd Wright’s cook kills Wright’s mistress and six others on what was supposed to be his last day of work. Julian Carlton arrives at Wright’s estate, Taliesin, in Wisconsin earlier in the summer with excellent references. Though he starts off on the right foot, he begins to show signs of paranoia,

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Diane Arbus photo of two young, female identical twins.

365 Days of Art: July 26 – Three Events About Women in the Art World: a Suicide, a Congressional Debate, and a Job Interview

Three events today, about women in the art world: July 26, 1971 Diane Arbus commits suicide. She is a photographer, known for her black-and-white, usually head-on photos of folks that might make other folks cringe: a man in rollers and make-up, presumably half-way through his transformation to drag queen (this photo is spat on by

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Side-by-side portraits of Adam and Eve.

365 Days of Art: July 25 – Nazis Send Telegram About “Rescue” of Two Paintings Admired by Hitler

July 25, 1944 SS General Karl Wolff sends a telegram to Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler, reporting on the “rescue” of two paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder (the diptych Adam and Eve), noting how much Hitler had admired them when he’d seen them in Florence, and asking “whether these art treasures should be brought to the

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An unfeeling man stands over a woman's bloody corpse on a bed; blood spatter is everywhere

365 Days of Art: July 23 – Frida Writes Letter to Diego After His Affair with Her Sister

July 23, 1934 Frida writes a letter to Diego, who has been carrying on an affair with her sister Cristina for about a year: . . . all these letters, liaisons with petticoats, lady teachers of “English,” gypsy models, assistants with “good intentions,” “plenipotentiary emissaries from distant places,” only represent flirtations, and that at bottom

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Arshile Gorky sits on a picnic blanket with his head in his hand.

365 Days of Art: July 19 – Hitler Kicks Off Degenerate Art Fair, Gorky Returns Home to Connecticut

July 19, 1937 Hitler opens The Entartete (or Degenerate) Art Fair in Munich with an enraged speech about the “great and fatal illness” of art, while the exhibition itself is designed to invite public mockery of “garbage.” The show features over 650 artworks and books, culled from a cache of about 16,000 works stolen from

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365 Days of Art: July 16 – Gorky Physically Confronts Matta, and His Wife Leaves Him

July 16, 1948 Arshile Gorky physically confronts Matta over sleeping with his wife Agnes (aka Mougouch), and she leaves Gorky on the advice of his own doctor. The morning after a huge fight, Gorky’s wife initially thinks they’ve cleared the air. She writes a letter to Matta to let him know that Gorky knows about

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Expressive, abstract painting by Willem de Kooning.

365 Days of Art: July 1 – De Kooning Begins Teaching, Lennon’s 1st Exhibition Opens, and A Crowd Protests Mapplethorpe’s Cancellation

July 1, 1948 Willem de Kooning begins teaching at Black Mountain College, an experimental art college near Asheville, North Carolina. Famous colleagues include Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, and Merce Cunningham. July 1, 1968 John Lennon’s first art exhibition, with Yoko Ono, entitled You are Here, opens in London. July 1, 1989 On the

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A storeroom with famous paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso and others leaning against each other, the walls, and the floor.

365 Days of Art: June 30 – Hitler Authorizes Degenerate Art Exhibition; Commission Created to Confiscate More Artwork

June 30, 1937 Hitler signs an order authorizing the Degenerate Art Exhibition, and Joseph Goebbels accordindgly creates a commission to oversee the confiscation from museums and private art collections any remaining artworks that are deemed modern, subversive, or otherwise contrary to the German spirit. This is an extension of Nazi policy to persecute Jews and

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Painting of a crowd of 17th-century Dutch folks, having a good time.

365 Days of Art: June 25 – Serial Art Attacker Ignites Painting

June 25, 2006 Serial art attacker Hans-Joachim Bohlmann pours lighter fluid on the painting Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster (1648) by Bartholomeus van der Helst and sets fire to it. Luckily, most damage occurs in the varnish layer, where it’s easier to treat. Bohlmann is sentenced to

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Mixed media Louise Nevelson sculpture consisting of various items collected together in handcrafted shelving and painted black.

365 Days of Art: June 18 – Chicago Tribune Reveals Nevelson Estate in Turmoil

June 18, 1989 The Chicago Tribune discloses that the late sculptor Louise Nevelson’s son and her personal assistant (and perhaps closeted lover) are locked in a legal battle over her estate. And it gets messy. Mike Nevelson takes 35 sculptures from Diana MacKown which she says were a gift from Louise, and he says don’t

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Graphic and shadowy portrait of Andy Warhol with hand to mouth

365 Days of Art: June 14 – Time Magazine Blames Warhol for RFK Assassination

June 14, 1968 In the aftermath of the attempted murder of Andy Warhol and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy within three days of each other (RFK’s assassination pushed Andy Warhol off the cover of Life magazine that week), Time‘s art critic Piri Halasz wrote: To the extent that Warhol’s art and life-style embody and

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Several suitcases are placed near each other; one is opened to reveal it's packed with blocks of cheese.

365 Days of Art: June 11 – Dieter Roth Exhibition Receives Humorous Review

June 11, 1970 Dieter Roth’s first US exhibition receives a tongue-in-cheek review in the International Herald Tribune, which says that the gallery owner “will sell it to anyone with $21,000 and a bad cold.” The reason for the bad cold is that the exhibition stinks. Literally stinks. Inspired by an artist whose work Roth thinks

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Front page of NY Daily News completely filled with photo and headline about Andy Warhol shooting

365 Days of Art: June 3 – Nazis Legalize Art Theft, Peggy Guggenheim Visits Brancusi During WWII Bombing, and Andy Warhol is Shot

This is a cruel and violent day in the history of art: June 3, 1938 The Nazis pass a law legalizing art robbery of “Entartete Art” [Degenerate Art], which sets the stage for many Jews to be robbed of their art collections. June 3, 1940 Peggy Guggenheim recalls visiting Constantin Brancusi’s studio while the Germans

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Mary lovingly cradles Jesus' limp body in her lap.

365 Days of Art: May 21 – Man Attacks Michelangelo’s Pietà

May 21, 1972 Laszlo Toth, an unemployed geologist, climbs onto Michelangelo’s Pietà, grabs a hammer from underneath his coat, and smashes away at the sculpture 15 times. A fireman and several undercover guards pull him away, while several civic-minded bystanders grab fragments of the statue that have fallen to the floor and run (to his

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August Savage works on a bronze sculpture.

365 Days of Art: May 20 – NY World Publishes Article About Augusta Savage’s Rejection Due to Racial Bias

May 20, 1923 The New York World publishes an article on Augusta Savage, the artist whose application to a summer art program in France is denied because she is Black. The backstory: A summer art school in France offers grants for 100 American women to study for free in the program. Augusta applies, and the

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A stylized drawing of a couple having sex.

365 Days of Art: May 18 – Egon Schiele Calls Himself “Shattered” Over Trial

May 18, 1912 Egon Schiele writes to his friend Arthur Roessler, who had been away from Vienna during Schiele’s arrest and trial on charges of child molestation, abduction, and pornography, which comes to be known as the Neulengbach affair: … I am still completely shattered. — During the trial one of my pieces which had

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A painting of a picnic lunch in the forest, with men in suits and a nude woman.

365 Days of Art: May 15 – The Salon des Refusés Opens to the Public

May 15, 1863 The Salon des Refusés (literally, The Exhibition of Rejects), an exhibition of artwork rejected by the annual Paris Salon exhibition, opens to visitors. The exhibition is organized by Napoleon III to quiet his more vocal critics, and probably to prove to the public that they should have trusted the judgment of the

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Two women restrain a man, while one beheads him.

365 Days of Art: May 14 – Artemisia Ghentileschi Testifies at the Trial of Her Rapist

May 14, 1612 Artemisia Gentileschi testifies at the trial of her rapist, Agostino Tassi, a friend of her father’s (the painter Orazio Gentileschi): . . . as I have said, I trusted him and would never have believed that he would dare rape me and do damage both to me and the friendship he had

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365 Days of Art: May 9 – Nelson Rockefeller Fires Diego Rivera

May 9, 1933 After growing tensions over Diego’s depiction of Vladimir Lenin, Nelson Rockefeller fires Diego Rivera from his work on the Rockefeller Center murals in NYC. The building’s manager and 12 security guards order Diego to stop working, and present him with a termination letter and a check for his services. The scaffolding around

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365 Days of Art: May 6 – NEA Director Says Institution Is “Going Down the Tubes”

May 6, 1992 The Interim Director of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Anne-Imelda Radice, tells the House Appropriations Committee that the organization is in danger of “going down the tubes” due to artworks and exhibitions that include sexuality. She was appointed by George H.W. Bush after he asked her predecessor to resign in

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A drawing of Egon's Schiele's prison cell.

365 Days of Art: May 2 – Egon Schiele’s Friends Correspond While He Is in Jail

May 2, 1912 Egon Schiele’s friend Dr. Oskar Reichel writes to Arthur Roessler, informing him of Schiele’s imprisonment on charges of child molestation, abduction, and pornography, which comes to be known as the Neulengbach affair: B. [Heinrich Benesch] visited him. He was imprisoned in Neulengbach and was in a dreadful state. There are miserable conditions

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A huge stone statue located within a carved niche in a wall of rock.

365 Days of Art: April 30 – Chinese Pilgrim Describes Now-Destroyed Bamiyan Buddhas

April 30, 630 A Chinese Buddhist pilgrim by the name of Xuanzang visits the Bamiynan Buddhas and notes that the area contains “more than ten monasteries and more than a thousand monks.” He also noted that the two giant Buddha statues were “decorated with gold and fine jewels.” You can read more about the destruction

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A painting of a picnic lunch in the forest, with men in suits and a nude woman.

365 Days of Art: April 28 – Napoleon Issues Press Release About Planned Art Exhibition

April 28, 1863 Emperor Napoleon III issues a press release, regarding the planned Salon des Refusés (literally, Exhibition of the Rejected Ones): An exhibition will open on 15 May…Artists have until 7 May to withdraw their works…After this date works that have not been withdrawn will be placed on show. Here’s the backstory: This statement,

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Diego Rivera poses next to small artwork.

365 Days of Art: April 24 – Art and Politics Collide for Diego Rivera and Little Mermaid

Two instances of politics colliding with art today: April 24, 1933 With Diego Rivera’s mural for Rockefeller Center two thirds of the way finished, the NY World-Telegram inflames tensions between the artist and patron by publishing this headline: Rivera Paints Scenes of Communist Activity and John D. Jr. Foots Bill” Then: April 24, 1964 Oh

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Paintings of figures on cave walls.

365 Days of Art: April 22 – Scientists Announce Discovery of World’s Oldest Oil Paintings

April 22, 2008 Scientists announce they have proved the world’s first-ever oil paintings were made in caves that were discovered behind, and after the destruction of, two giant statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. Ironically, the dynamiting of the statues by the Taliban in 2001 revealed the caves and art behind them. Scientists discovered that paintings

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A painting of a sorrowful Virgin Mary.

365 Days of Art: April 21 – Serial Art Vandal Throws Acid at Five Dürer Paintings

April 21, 1988 Hans-Joachim Bolhmann, who we’ve met before this year, throws two bottles of sulfuric acid on five paintings by Albrecht Dürer in Munich’s Alte Pinakothek. The injured works include Lamentation for Christ, the Paumgartner Altar and Mater Dolarosa or Virgin of Sorrows. The Virgin of Sorrows is hit directly in her face, and

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Side-by-side portraits of Frank Lloyd Wright and his lover Mamah Borthwick Cheney.

365 Days of Art: April 10 – Frank Lloyd Wright Secretly Purchases Property Under His Mother’s Name

April 10, 1911 Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother Anne signs a deed for property in Wisconsin, on behalf of her son, which was purchased with money he borrowed from a friend. By using his mother’s name, Wright was able to secure the 31.5-acre property without attracting any additional attention to the affair he was having with

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Monet's painting of a woman and child atop a hill, under a parasol to protect from the sun.

365 Days of Art: April 8 – Monet’s Father Advises Him to Abandon Pregnant Girlfriend

April 8, 1867 Monet’s father instructs him to abandon his pregnant girlfriend. At this time, men of his Monet’s class didn’t usually marry their mistresses. Monet did marry her three years later, perhaps–it was suggested– more due to a rebellious streak, than out of love or even obligation to his growing family. Camille modeled for

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A painting of two Tahitian women in a tropical location.

365 Days of Art: April 1 – “Evil” Gauguin Painting is Attacked

April 1, 2011 A museum visitor at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC leapt at Paul Gauguin’s painting, Two Tahitian Women, tried to tear it from the wall, and pummeled it with her fists while yelling that it was “evil.” Luckily, the painting was protected by plexiglass, and the woman was quickly apprehended.

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A painting of a stylized goldfish against a dark background, by Paul Klee.

365 Days of Art: March 29 – Serial Art Vandal Strikes for First Time

March 29, 1977 At the Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hans-Joachim Bohlmann damaged the painting The Goldfish by Paul Klee by spraying sulfuric acid on it. This was the first of many attacks on artwork in Bohlmann’s career as a serial vandal; he damaged over 50 artworks between 1977 and 2006, causing millions in damage, and untold hours

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A painting of the Madonna and child.

365 Days of Art: March 23 – Undercover Sting Locates Stolen Art

March 23, 1976 Italy’s Art Squad runs an undercover sting and recovers three Renaissance masterpieces stolen the year before from the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in the Ducal Palace in Urbino. The theft, of Piero della Francesca’s Senigallia Madonna, another Piero called The Flagellation of Christ, and Raphael’s The Mute Woman occurred on February 5,

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Abstract Expressionist painting that is mostly red, with blue and yellow striped accents.

365 Days of Art: March 21 – Vandalism of Newman Painting Leads to Botched Conservation and Lawsuits

March 21, 1986 Barnett Newman’s Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III was slashed open with a boxcutter, by an unbalanced painter who did it in the name of art. Sort of. Here’s the story. By purchasing the painting, the Amsterdam Museum of Modern Art (Stedelijk Museum) opened itself up to controversy. To put

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A storeroom with famous paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso and others leaning against each other, the walls, and the floor.

365 Days of Art: March 20 – Nazis Destroy Approximately 5,000 Artworks in Bonfire

March 20, 1939 Under orders from Hitler, the Berlin Fire Department burned 1,004 paintings and sculptures and 3,825 watercolors, drawings and prints in a massive bonfire in its courtyard. These 5,000 artworks had been seized from galleries and museums across Germany over the previous several years, in a purge of anything that wasn’t deemed to

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A trio of people sing or play piano together in the drawing room of a home.

365 Days of Art: March 18 – Thieves Steal 13 Works in Biggest Art Theft EVER

March 18, 1990The largest art robbery in history occurs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, where 13 paintings valued at $100 million are stolen. Disguised as Boston police officers, the two thieves claimed to be responding to a call. In Boston, in the early morning hours of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, this sounded

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Ants crawl on a crucifix.

365 Days of Art: March 17 – Hide/Seek Opens at Tacoma Art Museum

March 17, 2012 Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture opens at the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma, Washington. This show, which originated at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, is the first major museum exhibition to focus on gender and sexuality. It drew international attention not only for this reason, but also because of

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The painting of a nude reclining woman is marred by several slashes in the canvas.

365 Days of Art: March 10 – Suffragette Slashes Velázquez Painting as Political Statement

March 10, 1914 Suffragette Mary Richardson slashed a Velázquez painting at the National Gallery in London, in revenge for the arrest of a fellow suffragette the day before. The painting was The Rokeby Venus (now titled Venus at the Toilet). Richardson grabbed what the newspaper called a “meat chopper” from under her cloak, smashed the

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365 Days of Art: March 8 – Little Mermaid Is Vandalized in Connection with International Women’s Day

March 8, 2006 The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is vandalized (not for the first time): a dildo is attached to the statue’s hand, green paint is dumped over it, and the words March 8 are written on it. It is suspected that this vandalism is connected with International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on

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A group of protesters stand under the American flag with a sign that says "The perfect moment to stop censorship."

365 Days of Art: March 7 – Arts Groups Meet to Strategize, Combat Censorship

March 7, 1992 With funding for the arts under direct attack by conservative politicians, a coalition of arts groups met to strategize on how to proceed. Lest you think this is 2010 (Hide/Seek, anyone?) let’s put this in context. Trouble had been brewing ever since an exhibition of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs, called The Perfect Moment,

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People walk by a large, empty niche in a wall where sculptures used to stand.

365 Days of Art: March 3 – Reconstruction of Dynamited Buddhas Is Discussed

March 3, 2011 Ten years and one day after the Taliban initiated their destruction, UNESCO convened a conference to discuss possible restoration of two 6th century Buddha statues. One result of the conference was a list of 39 recommendations for the site in Bamiyan, Afghanistan where two large niches in the side of the cliff

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The Bamiyan Buddha statues are destroyed by dynamite.

365 Days of Art: March 2 – Taliban Dynamites Historic Buddha Statues

March 2, 2001 The Buddhas of Bamiyan, two 6th century statues of Buddha carved into a cliff in Afghanistan, were dynamited by the Taliban. The total demolition was effected in stages, and took several weeks to complete. I remember the awful anticipation of the clock ticking down on this one. I, and all my friends

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A newspaper headline proclaims "Defaced Picasso."

365 Days of Art: February 28 – Picasso Painting Vandalized in Vietnam War Protest

February 28, 1974 Tony Shafrazi spray-painted Picasso’s painting Guernica, which hung in the Museum of Modern Art, with the words “KILL LIES ALL.” Luckily, the paint was easily removed due to heavy varnish on the painting’s surface. Shafrazi was protesting the announcement, the day before, of the release on bail of U.S. Lieutenant William Calley,

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Portrait of an 18th-century man.

365 Days of Art: February 21 – Connecticut Detectives Solve Case of 9 Slashed Paintings

February 21, 1945 The New Haven, CT police department announced that the case of nine slashed paintings at the Yale Art Gallery and Peabody Museum in Cambridge, MA was solved. Edward Morse was taken into custody and voluntarily committed himself to Middletown State Hospital after confessing to the vandalism. Morse had slashed the portraits with

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The Gross Clinic painting depicts a professor lecturing before a 19th century class of students.

365 Days of Art: February 13 – Thomas Eakins Forced to Resign Teaching Position Due to Scandal

February 13, 1886 Thomas Eakins is forced to resign from the Philadelphia Academy of Art after controversy over the use of male models in an art class that includes women. The story is more complicated than this may sound, and the resignation was the consequence of a series of questionable behaviors on Eakins’ part, coupled

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Bald figure with hands over ears screams while standing on bridge, under a swirling sky.

365 Days of Art: February 12 – Art Theft Mars Opening Day of Olympics

I’ve never been very rah-rah Olympics, but this time around, choosing an actively anti-LGBT country to play host to the entire world has left me especially cold. In that biannual spirit, let’s take a look at an art scandal that shook up the Olympics: February 12, 1994 Edvard Munch’s world-famous painting The Scream was stolen

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Liberty carries the French flag and a musket as she leads the French people forward, over various casualties on the battlefield.

365 Days of Art: February 7 – Delacroix Painting Vandalized by 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist

February 7, 2013 Eugène Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People is vandalized at the Louvre-Lens Museum by a 28-year old woman who wrote “AE911” on its surface with a permanent black marker just before closing time. She was immediately confronted by a security guard and a visitor, and arrested. The graffiti apparently refers to the

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A painting of 17th century people gathered at night.

365 Days of Art – January 13: Rembrandt Painting Attacked with Knife

January 13, 1911 A discharged Navy cook named Ligrist attacked The Night Watch by Rembrandt, one of the most popular paintings in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. He used a shoemaker’s knife, but luckily could not cut through the thick varnish on the painting. (Painters, take note!) This was the first, but not last, time this

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A painting vandalized with a spray-painted dollar sign.

365 Days of Art – January 4: Malevich Painting Vandalized

January 4, 1997 Russian-born performance artist Alex Brener added his own touch–a spray-painted green dollar sign–to Kazimir Malevich’s painting Suprematisme while it hung in the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam. This was his comment on the “corruption and commercialism” of the art world. According to Brener, “Malevich wanted to change to the world

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