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I have a bad feeling that a huge and horrible crime happened.
July 19, 2013 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and others burned by art thief's mother.
posted by xowie (143 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by brundlefly at 9:58 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by schmod at 9:58 AM on July 19, 2013


"If this terrible news is true, the last trace of hope that the art works would return is definitively gone. It would be a loss that touches every art lover."

I don't even like these artists, and I agree with the above.
posted by Mezentian at 10:00 AM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


.

I. Am. So. Angry!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:00 AM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mariette Maaskant, spokeswoman for Rotterdam's Kunsthal, said Dogaru's allegation "underscores the pointlessness of the theft".

No doubt. Of all the things to steal, why would you steal something that is so clearly and easily traceable ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:01 AM on July 19, 2013


Life in prison.

EDIT: Not simply because it's a horrible thing to do, but because destruction of such stolen items is so easy, and could provide an easy out for future thieves being chased.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:07 AM on July 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


I comfort myself with the knowledge that every art theft is, in some way, an indication that our human culture is still alive, that these items still hold value and meaning, and that we haven't completely devolved into a hive culture homogenized by the bleatings of 'reality' television and the spewings of Wal*mart.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:11 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure. If you believe this, I have a bridge by Monet to sell you.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:13 AM on July 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Olga Dogaru describes how she made the fire, put wood on it and burned the paintings, like she was burning a pair of slippers..."

Is that a common thing in Romania?
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:13 AM on July 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


Here we tie the laces together and toss them over the powerlines.
posted by notyou at 10:17 AM on July 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


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posted by Gelatin at 10:18 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw this the other day and, honestly, nearly vomited. To burn these... it's sacrilege.
posted by scody at 10:19 AM on July 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Slideshow of the torched works.
posted by notyou at 10:19 AM on July 19, 2013


oh god I'm sick
posted by louche mustachio at 10:19 AM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Slideshow of the torched works.

Pre-torched, it must be said.
posted by Mezentian at 10:21 AM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't know very much about the law of crimes against cultural heritage outside of a war context, but aside from the domestic crimes related to the theft is it possible that more serious international charges could be leveled against her?
posted by 1adam12 at 10:22 AM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by SNACKeR at 10:30 AM on July 19, 2013


How horrible. :(
posted by Kimberly at 10:31 AM on July 19, 2013


Creating forged versions of these paintings, setting those on fire, and then selling the originals to unscrupulous rich people seems like a pretty good way to get the police off your trail.
posted by one_bean at 10:31 AM on July 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


But if the paintings and drawings no longer existed, Radu Dogaru, her son, could be free from prosecution, she reasoned.

Seems like pretty sound reasoning. Wait, no.

What a terrible thing. Although "barbarian crime against humanity" is maybe laying it on a bit thick, Ernest.
posted by Hoopo at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm torn between three thoughts: one, it seems very unlikely that they've actually been burned; it's just too neat a cover story. Two, if they have in fact been destroyed, it's a terrible loss. Three, Tibetan sand mandalas.
posted by echo target at 10:35 AM on July 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


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posted by windykites at 10:36 AM on July 19, 2013


This makes me very sad.
posted by shelleycat at 10:36 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Creating forged versions of these paintings, setting those on fire, and then selling the originals to unscrupulous rich people seems like a pretty good way to get the police off your trail.

One could plead feeble-mindedness to get off the crimes-against-humanity charges that would otherwise be forthcoming, but then one would spend the rest of one's life looking over one's shoulder, wondering whether vigilante retribution is coming.
posted by acb at 10:36 AM on July 19, 2013


It bothers me about myself that a crime against art like this bothers me so very much and yet I get compassion fatigue about crimes against people.
posted by immlass at 10:39 AM on July 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


Creating forged versions of these paintings, setting those on fire, and then selling the originals to unscrupulous rich people seems like a pretty good way to get the police off your trail.

From the NYTimes article:
But he said his team had discovered material that classical French, Dutch, Spanish and other European artists typically used to prepare canvases for oil painting, as well as the “remains of colors.” . . . In addition, copper nails and tacks made by blacksmiths before the Industrial Revolution and used to tack canvas down were found in the debris. Such items would be nearly impossible to fake, he said.
posted by stopgap at 10:39 AM on July 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


I suppose it's possible to go to those lengths to throw the cops off your trail, but I'm not sure we're dealing with that level of sophistication here.
posted by Hoopo at 10:40 AM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sad.

The Art Loss Register does have a happy endings news page about recovered artworks, for those in need.

For example; Stolen Matisse Painting Recovered 25 Years After Theft
posted by R. Mutt at 10:40 AM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Creating forged versions of these paintings, setting those on fire, and then selling the originals to unscrupulous rich people seems like a pretty good way to get the police off your trail.

A man can hope, right? That said, her story rings true, if only for the sheer banality of the act.
posted by fifthrider at 10:40 AM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


But he said his team had discovered material that classical French, Dutch, Spanish and other European artists typically used to prepare canvases for oil painting, as well as the “remains of colors.” . . . In addition, copper nails and tacks made by blacksmiths before the Industrial Revolution and used to tack canvas down were found in the debris. Such items would be nearly impossible to fake, he said.

Well, fuck.
posted by acb at 10:40 AM on July 19, 2013


The evidence would be difficult to fake, but easy enough to get hold of old paintings from lesser artists (estate sales spring to mind).

The trick would be getting ones with the right colours and maybe regional differences...

No, I believe her.
posted by YAMWAK at 10:42 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Public flogging for all involved, then life in a Romanian prison.
posted by Gwynarra at 10:46 AM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Something similar happened in France in 2001. The thief's mom destroyed about 60 works of art, including paintings by Brueghel the Younger, Watteau and Teniers.
posted by elgilito at 10:47 AM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of all the things to steal, why would you steal something that is so clearly and easily traceable ?

There is a black market for such items. And apparently in the Netherlands, if you steal art but keep it for more than 20 years, it's yours.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:47 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


No such thing as pricelessness in the age of Capitalism.
posted by carsonb at 10:49 AM on July 19, 2013


I'm conflicted about this. It's not that I disagree that this was a great loss and an awful thing to do, but I find myself recoiling at the responses that treat the paintings involved as quasi-religious artifacts. I think that level of veneration is harmful, both because it distracts us from the reality that the valuation scheme we apply to these works is contingent, and because I think the introduction of such a hierarchy of value discourages a wide range of creative responses to the material in question by virtue of the fact that sacrilege is only made possible by sanctity.
posted by invitapriore at 10:51 AM on July 19, 2013 [27 favorites]


More information on the selling and re-selling of stolen art.

And on that tangent: why stealing art is a bad way to make a buck, as stolen works only net 5-10% of "market" value, and the Art Loss Registry keeps stolen and missing pieces on its list until they are found, so future sellers would have a hard time trying to make much money on them in the future.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:54 AM on July 19, 2013


Which is more probable? That a woman in a tiny Romanian village managed to collect enough exceedingly rare materials (paints that are no longer being made, handmade copper tacks, etc.) to successfully fake having burned the stolen artwork, or that she burned the stolen artwork?

She burned them, you guys. The uncertainly portrayed in the headlines ("fearing the worst" and "may have torched," etc.) is just clickbaitery / desperate wishful thinking on the part of the article authors. RTFA is your friend in this thread (though I certainly understand why one might not want to use up a free NYT read).
posted by BlueJae at 10:55 AM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Stay Classy, Romania.
posted by marienbad at 10:58 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Olga Dogaru describes how she made the fire, put wood on it and burned the paintings, like she was burning a pair of slippers..."

Is that a common thing in Romania?


Having spent time in a rural Romanian village, pretty much everything did get burned in fires, yeah. It said she put a pair of slippers on top while burning them-- to throw in doubt, I guess, if anyone looked at the ashes? Sadly I also find it implausible that contemporaneous artwork of any quality could be easily found to burn instead, nor that she would have sought out such works for their fireproof materials alone.

the responses that treat the paintings involved as quasi-religious artifacts.

I don't even like most of the artwork in question, but I'm appalled that people cased the museum, broke into it, stole millions of dollars worth of cultural heritage, took it out of the country, and then burned said objects of cultural heritage. It's the same kind of destruction as the looting of tombs in Egypt or the destruction of Roman monumental remains in Syria, and I think this is a pretty sad thing done by careless and selfish people.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:58 AM on July 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


scody: "I saw this the other day and, honestly, nearly vomited."

Same reaction here. Felt very, very queasy when I read about this.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:08 AM on July 19, 2013


jetlagaddict: "I don't even like most of the artwork in question, but I'm appalled that people cased the museum, broke into it, stole millions of dollars worth of cultural heritage, took it out of the country, and then burned said objects of cultural heritage. It's the same kind of destruction as the looting of tombs in Egypt or the destruction of Roman monumental remains in Syria, and I think this is a pretty sad thing done by careless and selfish people."

Right, I totally agree. I'm thinking about the more general case of how we understand these paintings, which only really relates to this event because it's encouraged people to be explicit about how they relate to this art. I probably could have been clearer about my point, which is basically that elevating something like a Picasso to the realm of the sacred discourages artists from feeling like they can be in a dialog with that piece, and even when it doesn't I think it tends to constrict artistic responses to the explicitly worshipful or the explicitly sacrilegious.
posted by invitapriore at 11:10 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Total kunst.
posted by biffa at 11:11 AM on July 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


His mother admitted destroying dozens of the works after police began investigating her son. She cut up paintings, stuffed the remnants down her garbage disposal and threw valuable jewels and other antiquities into a canal.

Well to paraphrase Mr. White from Reservoir Dogs, The choice between doing ten years and taking out some stupid motherfucker burning some paintings ain't no choice at all.

I'd hope my mother would do the same thing for me.
posted by three blind mice at 11:13 AM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think these works are almost certainly gone. Horrible fuckupery all round. Yet another classic case of the high-profile art heist. As Anthony Amore argues in Stealing Rembrandts, the typical profile of the person who steals high-profile, easily traceable works of art is a petty thief with a long rap sheet of gas station / convenience store type robberies who hears about the fabulous values of famous works of art, puts the heist together, and then discovers that there's just nothing they can do with the damn things once they've got them.
posted by yoink at 11:15 AM on July 19, 2013


I keep wondering: why burn them? I understand the mother wanted to destroy the evidence, but it boggles my mind that she'd set these painting alight, when she could just leave them somewhere remote in the middle of the night (ideally wrapped in plastic!) and through one way or another alert the police, or a curator, or someone that they were in Barn X off Road Y, near Hamlet Z. Burning the paintings is just so insane. And, of course, everyone got caught, so....it's just a sad waste.
posted by but no cigar at 11:16 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd hope my mother would do the same thing for me.

Remove your one possible bargaining chip for a lighter sentence?
posted by yoink at 11:17 AM on July 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


Public flogging for all involved, then life in a Romanian prison.

Let's try to maintain some perspective, here. They're inanimate objects. Valuable to the art world, valuable to history and particularly valuable to people who like to show off their prodigious wealth and power (something MetaFilter doesn't usually approve of).

They join the millions of other important artifacts that are "lost to history." Life will go on as it always does.
posted by klanawa at 11:18 AM on July 19, 2013 [13 favorites]


I keep wondering: why burn them? I understand the mother wanted to destroy the evidence, but it boggles my mind that she'd set these painting alight, when she could just leave them somewhere remote in the middle of the night (ideally wrapped in plastic!)

From the story, she did try burying them, hiding them at her sister's house etc. It's a case of the tell-tale heart, I think. Knowing where they were and that they were out there to be found just weighed on her oppressively. Her intense consciousness of their existence came to feel like an index of how easy they would be to find.
posted by yoink at 11:19 AM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wikipedia list of lost artwork.
posted by aught at 11:19 AM on July 19, 2013


I keep wondering: why burn them?

Exactly. But "Why pretend to burn them?" is a much easier question to answer.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:19 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Valuable to the art world, valuable to history and particularly valuable to people who like to show off their prodigious wealth and power (something MetaFilter doesn't usually approve of).

Yeah. Fuck art lovers who enjoy seeing works of art in public museums. They're obviously all ultrarich pseuds who are only interested in the works for purposes of conspicuous consumption.

Great works of art have been and will be a source of joy, comfort and inspiration for people from all walks of life. The segment of the art market who engage in actually buying and displaying such works privately is infinitesimal by comparison with the vast majority who simply want a chance to experience the works for their own sake. Now that's never going to be possible.
posted by yoink at 11:22 AM on July 19, 2013 [26 favorites]


my point, which is basically that elevating something like a Picasso to the realm of the sacred discourages artists from feeling like they can be in a dialog with that piece, and even when it doesn't I think it tends to constrict artistic responses to the explicitly worshipful or the explicitly sacrilegious.

I doubt that most of the artists I know would consider Picasso paintings to exist in "the realm of the sacred". Damn nice paintings? Sure. Culturally interesting? Yes. Worth a lot of money? Looks like it.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:22 AM on July 19, 2013


Valuable to the art world, valuable to history and particularly valuable to people who like to show off their prodigious wealth and power (something MetaFilter doesn't usually approve of).

I agree that some of the comments in this thread have been over the top in advocating punishments usually reserved for murder, but this is a bit disingenuous in the other direction. Great art's aesthetic value can be apprecated by all, not just the rich and powerful.
posted by aught at 11:23 AM on July 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm surprised that some billionaire hasn't already started buying up the classics one by one and burning them at their parties. I expect that will come sooner or later.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:26 AM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nobody else thinks this is funny in a heist-movie-farce sort of way? I would probably watch this film (subtitled, not dubbed, naturally).
posted by uncleozzy at 11:27 AM on July 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Valuable to the art world, valuable to history and particularly valuable to people who like to show off their prodigious wealth and power (something MetaFilter doesn't usually approve of).

I work at an art museum. We have plenty of working-class and middle-class folks who visit every day (though we could raise those figures even higher if we dropped our admission fees entirely, but that's another question). We provide the ONLY source of art education to whole swaths of Los Angeles public schools. Wanting works of art to remain in existence and available for public viewing is the very fucking OPPOSITE of elitism.
posted by scody at 11:30 AM on July 19, 2013 [64 favorites]


@ three blind mice--and I hope your mother would not do the same thing for you. Further, I would hope you thought better of your mother. After spending a great deal of time in Ireland and the UK I can say this will do nothing to lessen anxieties and fears about removing the immigration cap on Romanians in 2014. It is a very potent symbol ( if only a symbol) of putting family above a respect for other cultures. And please--I am not saying the stereoptypes are anything but stereotypes but politics and immigration are very hot button issues in the UK right now. This is an act, if true or even untrue, that can be used by the EDL, UKIP, BNP and others to reinforce a stereotype that transcends individual experiences.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:31 AM on July 19, 2013


Olga Dogaru = Old Our Gaga

Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu = A Rand Boner : Stolen Art Revenue!
posted by lalochezia at 11:38 AM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Someone earlier asked about creating forgeries. Wouldn't it be a better plan to create a forgery of an art piece and then break into someone's house that has the real piece and swap them? I imagine someone would not notice something askew and you wouldn't have a famous museum calling it in.
posted by gucci mane at 11:38 AM on July 19, 2013


Someone earlier asked about creating forgeries. Wouldn't it be a better plan to create a forgery of an art piece and then break into someone's house that has the real piece and swap them? I imagine someone would not notice something askew and you wouldn't have a famous museum calling it in.

Realistically, there are already a lot of forgeries in museums, but being able to make an exact replica of a piece (especially the frames, yikes) and put it in without triggering any of the alarms is far more difficult than just stealing a piece alone.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:41 AM on July 19, 2013


Fuck this guy and his mother.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:48 AM on July 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


I guess that's true, I imagine I'd have a ton of alarms in place if I had a real expensive art piece.
posted by gucci mane at 11:48 AM on July 19, 2013


I see no reason not to believe the mother's story. They're gone. Insurance companies are the next biggest losers here.

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posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:49 AM on July 19, 2013


It's the same kind of destruction as the looting of tombs in Egypt or the destruction of Roman monumental remains in Syria, and I think this is a pretty sad thing done by careless and selfish people.

I would say it's not comparable to the looting of Egyptian tombs. These works have been documented, reproduced, and recorded in nearly every conceivable way, and we know their place within the greater context and the artists' bodies of work. True, with paintings it's never the same as the real thing in person, but with artifacts in Egyptian tombs, it's not like we can even really know what was in them.
posted by Hoopo at 11:56 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


This does bring about an interesting topic though. Our technology does a pretty good job of making temporary things last a couple hundred years, but eventually the original product will simply deteriorate with age. It might be another couple hundred years, it might be a couple thousand... but what then?

The images remain, brushstrokes effortlessly recreated by an innumerable amount of photographic devices. The lessons the artists taught us through their individuality and refusal to submit to the mainstream are still there. Art, much like life itself, is something more than a physical object to interact with.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:56 AM on July 19, 2013


Who steals tens of millions of dollars worth of art and then tells their mom? I would have been forced to write a big apology letter and return everything!
posted by orme at 11:57 AM on July 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


Couldn't they have just gotten some paintings from the same era that were not considered valuable, and burned those? I'm sure a determined art thief could find some 100 year old paintings for a song. That presumably makes the real art easier to sell (i.e., pricier), as there's nobody looking for it anymore. He and Mom might do some time but again, maybe worth it for the payday?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:04 PM on July 19, 2013


I probably could have been clearer about my point, which is basically that elevating something like a Picasso to the realm of the sacred discourages artists from feeling like they can be in a dialog with that piece, and even when it doesn't I think it tends to constrict artistic responses to the explicitly worshipful or the explicitly sacrilegious.

There is a lot of variety in actual religious paintings, so even if Picasso's work were treated as sacred, it still wouldn't be so bad. Besides, I think Picasso serves as shorthand for 'famous 20th century painter', but IME most people who care about art like many other painters apart from or over Picasso.
posted by ersatz at 12:06 PM on July 19, 2013


carsonb: No such thing as pricelessness in the age of Capitalism.
There never has been. "Priceless" is just a dramatic phrase for documentary narrators.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:07 PM on July 19, 2013


Perhaps a better word is "irreplaceable."
posted by Hoopo at 12:13 PM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I wouldn't term this a crime against humanity, given what that usually means. I'd term it a crime against culture. A crime against history, and the future. It deserves to be thought about as its own unique kind of offense.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:15 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Art crime is its own category.
posted by stbalbach at 12:17 PM on July 19, 2013


wow. it's like the biggest danger to the art world is little old ladies
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:27 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blue_Villain: The images remain, brushstrokes effortlessly recreated by an innumerable amount of photographic devices. The lessons the artists taught us through their individuality and refusal to submit to the mainstream are still there. Art, much like life itself, is something more than a physical object to interact with.
Sorry, but that's an intensely naive description. You don't even have to leave The Blue to read discussions of how important , and even momentous or perception-changing, it can be to visit a particular piece and see it in the flesh (as it were).

Furthermore, most works are not photographed in very great detail. That's more expensive than you can guess, and having 10,000 polaroids of Monet's Water Lilies really isn't the equivalent of having a 1600-DPI scan of an 8' x 20' painting.

Finally, here's an article on closeup photos of a masterpiece during conservation; they're learning things as they work on the piece's construction that were impossible to learn from photography.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:29 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


After spending a great deal of time in Ireland and the UK I can say this will do nothing to lessen anxieties and fears about removing the immigration cap on Romanians in 2014. It is a very potent symbol ( if only a symbol) of putting family above a respect for other cultures. And please--I am not saying the stereoptypes are anything but stereotypes but politics and immigration are very hot button issues in the UK right now. This is an act, if true or even untrue, that can be used by the EDL, UKIP, BNP and others to reinforce a stereotype that transcends individual experiences.

To people who might use this as an example of a problem that could result from allowing Romanians to travel more freely, I would say that this probably wouldn't have happened if this woman had been more exposed to other cultures--if she had access to a good education or her son to a good job. Romanian villages are often incredibly poor and amazingly isolated from the larger world, considering the location of the country. We all see her crime as destroying something that belonged to everyone, but she might not have seen it that way since she may not have had a chance to participate in global culture the way a lot of us can, even via the internet.
posted by chaiminda at 12:37 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Furthermore, most works are not photographed in very great detail. That's more expensive than you can guess...

I guess one trillion dollars. How'd I do?

(Alternate snark: "I dunno. I can guess quite a bit.")
posted by The Tensor at 12:38 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Life in prison. ... Public flogging for all involved, then life in a Romanian prison. ... Crime against humanity

The weird gross circle-jerk in this thread (which is really about who can prove themselves more of a cultured art-lover, and reinforced their position in the social hierarchy) is far more abhorrent to me this misguided act of love from a mother towards a son.

Wanting works of art to remain in existence and available for public viewing is the very fucking OPPOSITE of elitism.

The point is that certain kinds of culture matter -- the culture valorized by the wealthy, powerful and white. Pretty Monets that look great on the side of a Kleenex box, and so on. No-one calls for the death penalty when arts, crafts and cultural expression that aren't deemend culturally significant by the ruling elites disappear. No-one even notices.

The images remain, brushstrokes effortlessly recreated by an innumerable amount of photographic devices. ... Sorry, but that's an intensely naive description.

IAmBroom, I think you're being naive. The main reason people are so "horrified" is that original works have an aura of authenticity that people fethize.
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:40 PM on July 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Moreover, IAmBroom, people still fetishize the authenticity of an artwork even when there is an exact reproduction, as in the case of a photograph, lithograph, poster, print, etc.

The original matters to people, and that's nothing to do with these mythical, microscopic properties you can see up close. It's because these are valued as tokens in social hierachies, over and above their value as art.
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:43 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


That doesn't really matter, in terms of the reprehensibility of their destruction, once they've become so invested with meaning and significance.

viz. the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Belief in the Buddha is not required for their destruction to have been unforgivable. The fact that these works were movable in commerce and are fetishized by capitalists doesn't negate their cultural worth.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:44 PM on July 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sorry, but that's an intensely naive description.


That's why I said it would be an interesting discussion. Not sure why one would expect every comment made in here to be from an art restoration expert.

But I'm sticking to the sentiment: art is more than a physical object. Comparatively, brush strokes and canvas are the more mundane aspects to the ephemeral thing that "art" is.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:46 PM on July 19, 2013


No-one calls for the death penalty when arts, crafts and cultural expression that aren't deemend culturally significant by the ruling elites disappear. No-one even notices.

I don't know, I'm horrified in part because I have seen what is happening to Romania's archaeological sites, to the historic painted churches and roadside shrines and the wooden buildings, one by one. There are some people working very hard to preserve that heritage without a lot of money or, often, public support, and I think incidents like this speak to the diffidence many people do have towards art.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:48 PM on July 19, 2013


"Godammit... Of course they were Romanians."

-- my Romanian wife.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2013


invitapriore: "It's not that I disagree that this was a great loss and an awful thing to do, but I find myself recoiling at the responses that treat the paintings involved as quasi-religious artifacts. I think that level of veneration is harmful, both because it distracts us from the reality that the valuation scheme we apply to these works is contingent, and because I think the introduction of such a hierarchy of value discourages a wide range of creative responses to the material in question by virtue of the fact that sacrilege is only made possible by sanctity."

My feeling is something close to the opposite of this (or at least sitting at a contrary angle.) I think that the veneration of works of art as quasi-religious artifacts affirms that any scheme of valuation, including sanctity, is highly contingent and capable of great breadth.
posted by desuetude at 12:58 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great works of art have been and will be a source of joy, comfort and inspiration for people from all walks of life.

Quoted for truth. Their theft and destruction is a theft from all of us, and a destruction of cultural heritage for all of us.

I'm also sick and saddened at learning of the very similar incident elgillito linked to above.

It's tough enough losing art because of the passage of time. But deliberate destruction, for whatever reason, is always pretty unbearable.
posted by bearwife at 1:01 PM on July 19, 2013


I don't have the same visceral reaction that many do here, but considering the endless and still unresolved back and forth over whether photographs can be considered authentic representations of anything, the phrase "exact reproductions" seems, well, naive, particularly in the case of works of art.

"An original is a creation motivated by desire. Any reproduction of an original is motivated by necessity. It is marvelous that we are the only species that creates gratuitous forms. To create is divine, to reproduce is human." — Man Ray
posted by Lorin at 1:09 PM on July 19, 2013


I can only assume that those arguing that Picasso's work belongs to the realm of the ruling class and the status quo are entirely ignorant of the man's biography and politics, and mostly ignorant of his art.

The elite of Picasso's time were certainly skeptical of both the man and the value of his work. If the elite now claim his work, it is only because they would like to appropriate it in the same way those in power nearly always come around to wanting to appropriate art that was once revolutionary, as a means of diluting its message and distorting its power. Rich white men being obsessed with Picasso is not substantially different from rich white men being obsessed with jazz. That does not make jazz elitist music.

Picasso's work is of immense cultural value to the world precisely because it undermined the cultural hegemony of his time.
posted by BlueJae at 1:13 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pretty Monets that look great on the side of a Kleenex box, and so on.

Ooh, you're so edgy! You're not going to like anything The Man tells you to like!
posted by yoink at 1:18 PM on July 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


There needs to be a practice of every few years thoroughly imaging the works of our best-loved artists using the best and latest technology, so that as far as possible we at least have the ability to experience them as closely as possible if something happens to them; beit this kind of destruction or just disappearence into a private collection of some overmoneyed asshole.

I'm heartsick about this, and of course you don't need to tell me that no image is ever going to equal the original. But OTOH most of us will never see the original, and in a few tragic cases like this, none of us will.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:19 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, but that's an intensely naive description. You don't even have to leave The Blue to read discussions of how important , and even momentous or perception-changing, it can be to visit a particular piece and see it in the flesh (as it were).

It's not naive. To be honest I have heard "you need to see it up close to appreciate it" about a number of works that when I really did see it up close (while I lived in Ottawa I frequented our National Gallery semi-regularly--still do when I get a chance), it didn't have anything like the effect described to me. I had studied a fair number of these paintings in high school, and yeah, Rothko doesn't translate well to a shitty slide projected on a blackboard. And pointilism really doesn't work well in a small photo. But in my experience, while it's definitely a different thing to see them in person, the effect is overstated for many works. Especially because you can study the techniques, intentions, and place within art history of the works, at a distance, with a good knowledgeable instructor using a reasonable reproduction rather than the real thing, and come out with a completely adequate understanding of its cultural value.

I can only assume that those arguing that Picasso's work belongs to the realm of the ruling class and the status quo are entirely ignorant of the man's biography and politics, and mostly ignorant of his art.

When we say things like "Picasso's work is of immense cultural value to the world", you're kind of overlooking that probably 75% or more of the world couldn't even identify a Picasso.
posted by Hoopo at 1:24 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


75% or more of the world couldn't even identify a Picasso.

Really? Cultural value is based on Q factor now? So destroying artefacts produced, say, by a New Zealand Maori tribe in the C18th would be o.k. because well over 90% of the world wouldn't recognize it? Or would it not be o.k. because it's not something The Man tells you looks good on the side of a kleenex box? Or would it be o.k. after all because they are still highly collectable items that very rich people would pay large sums of money for?

The muddle headed, adolescent "I just read a few bits of The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and I'm pretty sure I'm an expert on all things relating to cultural value" nonsense being spouted in this thread is truly depressing.
posted by yoink at 1:37 PM on July 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's all well and good to expound upon the rise of the simulacrum and rehash the postmodern reveal by which we understand that the the authentic is as constructed as the simulation, but even so just a bit of perspective applying that to the last few decades would suggest that it remains important--or becomes more important--to preserve works precisely so we can generate better and better simulacra for wider dissemination through improvements in reproduction.

Anxiety about fetishization should run towards wider access to works like these, not towards being casual about their destruction because money is bad and these were worth a lot of money.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:44 PM on July 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


There is objective evidence of the importance of Picasso's work in the fact that they saw a need to cover up Guernica before Colin Powell stood in front of it to lie about the case for war.

(Though it must be said, that is a reproduction.)
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:46 PM on July 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is worse than my mom putting out all my Rolling Stones mags for recycling when I left for college.

What the hell, moms?
posted by hal_c_on at 1:58 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


75% of the world might not be able to identify a Picasso (I find it unlikely that the number is that high, actually, but I'll give you it for speculation's sake), but nearly everyone with an internet connection, a television or access to a library has been influenced by the art Picasso influenced. If you don't understand how influential his work was-- or Monet's, for that matter-- on the world of art, then-- and I mean this entirely seriously, and not to be condescending-- maybe you would benefit from taking an art history class.

(I am just as sad as anyone, by the way, that a thousand thousand people who may have been as great and influential as Picasso never got the chance to have their work seen by the world because of class or gender or race or disability or what-have-you. As a woman and a creative person trying now and again to make my own tiny ripples in the world, I do in fact get how dominant culture conspires to silence some voices and boost others. But that does NOT make me fine with burning Picassos.)
posted by BlueJae at 2:04 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


All art is ephemeral.
posted by fungible at 2:06 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great art's aesthetic value can be apprecated by all, not just the rich and powerful.

True, I've been to some of the great European galleries and loved them.

But to me, as much individual works of art are interesting in terms of what the have to say about us or the artist ors the times (etc.), or in terms of simple beauty, the story and the history of a piece, the circumstances under which it is created or destroyed and peoples' reactions to its creation or destruction are more interesting.

Lots of people know the language and posture of art appreciation, know which pieces can be praised in polite company, and pride themselves on it. But when someone burns a Picasso, everyone goes full ape. For all I know this grandmother is a performance artist, and y'all have been had.
posted by klanawa at 2:12 PM on July 19, 2013


All art is ephemeral.

And all people are mortal; that doesn't mean it's cool to kill them.
posted by yoink at 2:38 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


The muddle headed, adolescent "I just read a few bits of The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

I would like to meet these teenagers you hang out with.
posted by shivohum at 2:53 PM on July 19, 2013


I would like to meet these teenagers you hang out with.

Yes. Perhaps I should have said "sophomoric."
posted by yoink at 3:05 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, at least she didn't give them to WikiLeaks. Now THAT would be worth the death penalty...
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:15 PM on July 19, 2013


Really? Cultural value is based on Q factor now? So destroying artefacts produced, say, by a New Zealand Maori tribe in the C18th would be o.k. because well over 90% of the world wouldn't recognize it?

Um, no, destroying any of these things is not "ok." No one is implying it is "OK". God, but this kind of hyperbole is tiresome. I'd like to think cultural value could be based to some extent on what can be understood, recognized, or have meaning to people of a given culture. That it can communicate something to people who do not have some specialized knowledge or education, but rather by virtue of their belonging to that culture. A lot of art--even paintings--that we're told has immense cultural value is so arcane and esoteric that I have to wonder whether its fair or accurate to say it's truly valuable to "the world" or just to a small class of people who treasure it highly. Picasso is perhaps not the best example because he is so well-known, I mean pretty much everyone at least knows the name and that his paintings are worth a lot of money. But even using him as an example, a lot of people understand the value of a Picasso as a commodity, not as something transcendent. Few can really tell you what cubism or primitivism is about. Telling people that these bizarre alien-looking images are their cultural icons will ring hollow for many, many people, and that's kind of a problem when the reaction to the destruction of these famous works of art is "I HOPE THE OLD LADY DIES IN JAIL!"

maybe you would benefit from taking an art history class.

Ugh. I have, I am not someone that doesn't appreciate art. I go to galleries when I can, and I even paint myself. I've had about enough of this conversation, thanks. Maybe you all would benefit from getting to know some philistines. There's lots of them and they actually count for something.
posted by Hoopo at 3:40 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of art--even paintings--that we're told has immense cultural value is so arcane and esoteric that I have to wonder whether its fair or accurate to say it's truly valuable to "the world" or just to a small class of people who treasure it highly.

So we've had the argument that we shouldn't care about the destruction of these works because they are chocolate box art that everyone likes because they are told that this is what they ought to like. And now we have the argument that we shoudn't care about the destruction of these paintings because they are "arcane and esoteric" works that only a select elite actually care about.

I think it is fair to say that the "yay, burn that shit" contingent have not really distinguished themselves by their capacity to make a coherent and convincing case in this thread.
posted by yoink at 3:45 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


So we've had the argument that we shouldn't care about the destruction of these works

I don't think so. Where?
posted by Hoopo at 3:47 PM on July 19, 2013


There are paintings that affected my life, which I have never seen and never will because they were destroyed before I was born (amongst the masses of art and treasure that get destroyed every time we decide to have another war), all that exists of them is old black-and-white prints of works, still lovely in monochrome. I have no idea what they look like in colour, there is no record, perhaps no-longer even living memory of them.

These recently-lost works by contrast, my understanding is that excellent reproductions exist. So, okay, yeah, the more I think about it, the more I'm leaning into the camp that feels that it was mostly just the artifact that was lost, not the work or its place or history or influence or prestige. Much of 20th century art was driven by artists attempting to break their art from becoming commodified or having an original artifact, and I guess they have influenced me too. (As has the digital age in eroding the pedestal of The Original). I'm finding it more natural to think that the commodity, not the art, was lost.

If I was a painting, preservation would be best, but I would choose destruction by being stolen by catburgler for my value, over destruction by random dumb-luck bombing. There is a kind of (misplaced) glamour to priceless art theft being A Thing, which enriches the world in its own way. :-)
posted by anonymisc at 4:36 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Geez, if the guy had robbed a bank would she have burned the money?!?
posted by TDavis at 4:37 PM on July 19, 2013


Wow. I read this news earlier today and felt, for lack of a better description, intensely disappointed. But count me amongst those who are somewhat shocked at the violent and visceral responses expressed.

Art is important and magnificent and heavy with meaning, but to suggest that your eye for an eye requires entire lives to be snuffed out?
posted by lucidium at 5:33 PM on July 19, 2013


> When we say things like "Picasso's work is of immense cultural value to the world", you're kind of overlooking that probably 75% or more of the world couldn't even identify a Picasso.

Why do you think that 75% of the world couldn't identify a Picasso?
posted by desuetude at 5:37 PM on July 19, 2013


I think it is fair to say that the "yay, burn that shit" contingent have not really distinguished themselves by their capacity to make a coherent and convincing case in this thread.

This is really not sitting well with me. Not a single person in this thread has said anything vaguely close to "yay burn that shit" or even expressed anything but a sense of loss about the destruction of these works. You are someone who calls yourself an art lover while managing to display zero attention to detail and an inability to perceive nuance or context. Then tossing out insults and condescension at people who don't classify this as a crime against humanity or other exaggerated claims of its value to humanity as a whole? This is not the destruction of the Library at Alexandria. It is stupid, needless, and selfish destruction of a few valuable pieces of art that a lot of people enjoy, but of which the legacy, likeness, and knowledge remains part of the cultural and historical record even if the physical artifact is now gone forever. There exist legal consequences for theft and destruction of this kind of property that can address what these people did. We do not have to go for public flogging and life imprisonment. Very adolescent or sophomoric of me, I know.
posted by Hoopo at 5:37 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do you think that 75% of the world couldn't identify a Picasso?

Because I grew up in a fairly privileged part of the world with access to education and arts, even world-renowned works on tour through galleries--yet art history was not offered until the 11th or 12th grade in poorly-attended elective courses. Only 1 of my friends growing up took an art class in school after the 10th grade, and this was not unusual. In my experience, a lot--and I mean a lot--of people aren't that interested in art history or going to galleries. But hey, maybe I'm wrong and more than 25% of people could identify the Demoiselles D'Avignon or the Old Guitarist or Guernica as Picasso's based on what they know about him or heard about him. It's just a ballpark figure based on my experience, nothing scientific. But I mean I could easily mistake a Braque for a Picasso, and I have spent at least a little bit of time on it.
posted by Hoopo at 5:51 PM on July 19, 2013


uncleozzy: "Nobody else thinks this is funny in a heist-movie-farce sort of way? I would probably watch this film (subtitled, not dubbed, naturally)."
It's been done already, starring Jaime Lannister.
posted by brokkr at 5:52 PM on July 19, 2013


desuetude: "Why do you think that 75% of the world couldn't identify a Picasso?"
75% of the people around you might be able to, but I would be pleasantly surprised if 4½ billion people had ever even heard of Pablo Picasso.

Incidentally, which is a Picasso - this, this or this?
posted by brokkr at 6:11 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Because I grew up in a fairly privileged part of the world with access to education and arts, even world-renowned works on tour through galleries--yet art history was not offered until the 11th or 12th grade in poorly-attended elective courses.

I think this is a pretty entitled way to look at it, honestly. You don't need to take art history classes to understand art or recognize distinctive work, you just need to have seen some representations of it.

I'm perhaps operating from a broader definition of "identify it as a Picasso" than yours, though. I wouldn't quibble with someone someone who has the right artist in mind but has the name garbled, or assumes him to be French rather than Spanish, or even lumps a Braque in with a bunch of Picassos.
posted by desuetude at 6:41 PM on July 19, 2013


viz. the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Belief in the Buddha is not required for their destruction to have been unforgivable.

Calling the destruction of objects portraying the Buddha "unforgivable"...man, that is like three different levels of irony right there.
posted by threeants at 9:00 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]



Incidentally, which is a Picasso - this, this or this?


I knew the last one was, but even if I wasn't already aware and recognized the piece it HAD to be the last one as it was set up as a 'gotcha!'
posted by Windigo at 9:12 PM on July 19, 2013


Which is more probable? That a woman in a tiny Romanian village managed to collect enough exceedingly rare materials (paints that are no longer being made, handmade copper tacks, etc.) to successfully fake having burned the stolen artwork, or that she burned the stolen artwork.

Geez, you guys need to brush up on your art heist film twists. If you are a half-decent international art thief, you dont expect your elderly mother to go out and acquire sacrificial artworks on her own AFTER you are caught - you steal them yourself beforehand, maybe a couple of years earlier, or even quietly buy a bunch of minor works at auction.

Wouldn't it be a better plan to create a forgery of an art piece and then break into someone's house that has the real piece and swap them?

You are Berny Rhodenbar and I claim my kidnapped cat. Bonus points if you do this with some easily reproducible modern art, igniting a huge My Kid Could Paint That debate on Metafilter.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:58 PM on July 19, 2013


I'm sitting here shaking my head at people who are blind enough to their own privilege to think that people from all walks of life are equally deprived by this little fire.

Highbrow art such as these paintings is defined by and perpetuates the power of those who define what art is. The act of this woman, to define once and for all that these mere objects are not worth a single day of her son in prison, should be celebrated as greater art than every museum curators lifetime achievements.

I hope Werner Herzog makes a movie about her.
posted by dhoe at 11:41 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Discussion of privilege is something of a red herring I think - why would the less privileged care if a single guy in a foreign country spends time in prison or not? They are not any more privileged if he is set free.

It obviously matters to his mother, but that is entirely personal, not related to class or privilege. Would you be thinking the same way if his mother was rich, and the destroyed art was a small part of her private collection? After all, I suppose she would be entirely ok with perpetuating the power of those who define what art is if he managed to escape conviction, sell the paintings and live happily ever after on the money.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:20 AM on July 20, 2013


That Matisse was superb. How awful!!
posted by professor plum with a rope at 1:49 AM on July 20, 2013


I think it is fair to say that the "yay, burn that shit" contingent have not really distinguished themselves by their capacity to make a coherent and convincing case in this thread.

I think it's fair to say that I'm appalled that such a contingent exists here. Wanton destruction of creative works that represent the height of human imagination & our inscrutable quest for beauty is a crime against the spirit if what it means to be human - to be more that animals.

Regardless of the ephemeralty or the varied tastes of the participants here, it's a slap in the face of our collective soul. I'm kinda horrified by this whole thing, and I'm kinda horrified that this is NBD to any of you.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:16 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The act of this woman, to define once and for all that these mere objects are not worth a single day of her son in prison, should be celebrated as greater art than every museum curators lifetime achievements.

Except that she and her son will be going to prison for a long time. The revolutionary philistines have already had their turns running the zoo. Their time is not coming back.

The worth of great artistic works has nothing to do with the numbers of people who appreciate them or don't appreciate them right now. They are artifacts which belong to the infinite waterfall of generations to come, whether or not the present contingent of monkeys sees their value.
posted by shivohum at 6:45 AM on July 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


The act of this woman, to define once and for all that these mere objects are not worth a single day of her son in prison, should be celebrated as greater art than every museum curators lifetime achievements.

We have us a thing here called civilization. It comes with rules. One of these rules is don't steal shit, or we will punish you. You're welcome to go buy an uninhabited island is some Pacific atoll & re-create your boundless society where everyone is free to take whatever they wish & to have it without consequence or regard to its previous owner, but that's not how it works in this society. Sure, dollar value is arbitrary, but that has not much bearing on the initial fact that this was an act of theft, and an act of destruction of evidence, and obstruction of justice. That would remain the case if the guy had raided the Bad Art Museum.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:01 AM on July 20, 2013


These works have created thought, appreciation, and joy for tens of thousands of people, far more than this thief and his mother will ever do. These works of art are worth far more than their lives.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:20 AM on July 20, 2013


These works of art are worth far more than their lives.

You're genuinely saying that if you had this woman and her son in front of you, and a pile of these paintings, you'd choose to burn the people?
posted by lucidium at 2:34 PM on July 20, 2013


It would be nice of we could advocate burning neither.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:42 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


These works have created thought, appreciation, and joy for tens of thousands of people, far more than this thief and his mother will ever do. These works of art are worth far more than their lives.

Is this the art-thread equivalent of Godwinning?
posted by like_a_friend at 2:58 PM on July 20, 2013


I think this is a pretty entitled way to look at it, honestly. You don't need to take art history classes to understand art or recognize distinctive work, you just need to have seen some representations of it.

Not sure how that's "entitled" exactly, but I agree that you need to take art history classes to understand art. Someone else thinks otherwise upthread I think. Anyways, I'm assuming taking art class in school though is a pretty good indication that you are interested in it. That's where that's coming from, but you can call it entitlement if it makes you happy.

Anyways, here's the stats (pdf) about gallery attendance in Canada if anyone from the "but people of all walks of life go!" camp is interested. Attendance increases steadily with income. And it's pretty low for the lower income groups, frankly.

I think it's fair to say that I'm appalled that such a contingent exists here.

It doesn't. It really doesn't.
posted by Hoopo at 7:07 PM on July 20, 2013


ugh. I agree that you *DONT* need to take art history classes.
posted by Hoopo at 7:52 PM on July 20, 2013


Anyways, here's the stats (pdf) about gallery attendance in Canada if anyone from the "but people of all walks of life go!" camp is interested. Attendance increases steadily with income.

Of course "attendance increases steadily with income"! What other possible result would anyone expect? That does nothing, however to disprove the claim that these works are important to people from all walks of life, including those who can in no way participate, or think to participate, in the culture of conspicuous consumption that revolves around the private ownership of these works. That group represents an infinitesimal fraction of those attending art galleries.

But you really didn't actually look hard at your own link, did you? The percentage of those people earning less that 20K p.a. who ever attend an art gallery or art museum is HIGHER than the percentage in that band who ever attend a "popular music performance." Yes, surprise surprise, richer people with more disposable income have more leisure time and go to art galleries more than poorer people. But A) that applies equally to pop music as it does to museums and B) the poorest band in their stats are making more of an effort to get to the supposedly "highbrow," "exclusive" world of art galleries and museums than they are to the supposedly "lowbrow" and "accessible" world of pop music. In other words, you just demolished your own argument with that link. Not that it needed it.
posted by yoink at 8:03 AM on July 21, 2013


Anyways, here's the stats (pdf) about gallery attendance in Canada if anyone from the "but people of all walks of life go!" camp is interested. Attendance increases steadily with income. And it's pretty low for the lower income groups, frankly.

The attendance of public art galleries or museums is higher than popular music events in the low-income categories (p.2).

Not to mention that visiting a museum takes time and money, so if you look at people with a higher income (or wealth), you'd expect to see increased attendance.
posted by ersatz at 8:05 AM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


You've both attempted to draw some conclusion from this popular music events thing. I'm not sure why "popular music events" would be analogous to going to a gallery, because concerts are but a tiny fraction of the ways people experience popular music. I don't think a similar wide penetration exists for famous art as it does for popular music. Many people don't even leave the house without a music device, and their homes will no doubt have CDs or hard drives full of music. You can't even go to the store without being exposed to popular music. You can't go to a club or a bar or a sporting event without being exposed to popular music. The same is not true for Monet or Picasso. Not to mention, popular music events are largely for the fans of the specific performers, and held rarely or sporadically at best. The Gallery is there pretty much all the time.
posted by Hoopo at 11:27 AM on July 21, 2013


But A) that applies equally to pop music as it does to museums and B) the poorest band in their stats are making more of an effort to get to the supposedly "highbrow," "exclusive" world of art galleries and museums than they are to the supposedly "lowbrow" and "accessible" world of pop music

This doesn't even come close to following from those numbers. There are many more ways to experience pop music than concerts or events and access to pop music is literally everywhere. This is why the industry historically has tracked record sales and singles charts. The same is not true for art.

Quite a while ago in Canada we had an uproar about the National Gallery's purchase of a painting called Voice of Fire. People thought the Government spent way too much on this thing, which is a big canvas with 2 blue stripes with a red stripe in the middle. One MP said it looked like all you'd need for that thing is a couple of cans if paint, why did we spend $2million? The local arts community's response was to mock his background as a pig farmer in Manitoba. What does a pig farmer know about art, right? I guess pig farmers don't know shit about cultural value.

This is the problem. There is a huge disconnect here and I don't feel comfortable with dictating what is and is not of tremendous value to everyone when it's clearly not for a lot of people.

But somehow I think you're going to read this and dismiss it as me saying its awesome that the lady burned these worthless paintings, when what all I'm asking for is maybe not calling for her to be hung drawn and quartered and maybe not overstate the impact if this terrible loss on western culture, or humanity, or whatever else people in this thread or TFA are claiming.
posted by Hoopo at 11:57 AM on July 21, 2013


richer people with more disposable income have more leisure time

(Also worth pointing out that in Canada, those with high income have slightly less leisure time than those with lower income, and pop concert tickets are way more expensive than gallery admission)
posted by Hoopo at 12:33 PM on July 21, 2013


You've both attempted to draw some conclusion from this popular music events thing. I'm not sure why "popular music events" would be analogous to going to a gallery, because concerts are but a tiny fraction of the ways people experience popular music. I don't think a similar wide penetration exists for famous art as it does for popular music. Many people don't even leave the house without a music device, and their homes will no doubt have CDs or hard drives full of music. You can't even go to the store without being exposed to popular music. You can't go to a club or a bar or a sporting event without being exposed to popular music. The same is not true for Monet or Picasso.

Going to a gallery is also a fraction of the way people come into contact with art and design e.g. posters, ads, sites and magazines. Besides, that's the data we have available :)
posted by ersatz at 1:12 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hoopo, no matter how desperately you try to explain those numbers away, those stats clearly show that art galleries and art museums are an important resource for a strikingly significant percentage of lower middle class and working class people. I'm really not sure why you're so desperate to argue that poor people are indifferent to and uninterested in art; it is an offensive claim that is patently absurd to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the art world. The statistics you went and found prove, in the most striking way, just how absurdly wrong the claim is. Read your own link, for god's sake.
posted by yoink at 1:41 PM on July 21, 2013


I did not say that you need to take an art history class to appreciate ART. Babies appreciate art. You can appreciate art without ever having seen a painting before.

I said that if you don't understand the context of Picasso's art, or how it influenced many many other artists since, and is still impacting the visual world we live in today, then it might benefit you to take an art history class. As in, you might learn something interesting and useful, that might help you make better arguments about art by certain artists and its place in the world in the future.

Anyway the biggest art museum in my town is free, which is fantastic. You can just walk in and look at things. I grew up poor as dirt -- I mean going-hungry, thrift-store-clothes, occasionally-homeless poor -- but I'd already seen a Picasso in person by the time I was ten. (I was admittedly a lot more into Van Gogh then, though.) Art sure as heck did mean something to me, even on an empty stomach. Maybe especially on an empty stomach. No one charged me for filling my head.

I wish all art museums were free, but there are many many places for economically disadvantaged people to discover and appreciate fine art, including libraries and schools. I think if you think poor people don't appreciate things like a Picasso painting, Hoopo, then you are not giving poor people enough credit. Maybe you could try actually asking a few people living subsistence lives what they think about the idea of destroying a famous painting. Their opinions might be more varied on the subject than you'd expect.
posted by BlueJae at 8:00 PM on July 21, 2013


But look, the week before I met you I nailed two crooked real estate agents and a guy who was beating his kids to death. So, if some mother wants to burn a couple swirls of paint that are really only important to some very silly rich people I don't really give a damn.
posted by fullerine at 10:13 PM on July 21, 2013


“Standing alongside her son, Radu, 29, who has admitted stealing the paintings last October from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, Mrs. Dogaru told a panel of three judges that her earlier account of destorying the works in a stove at her house in the tiny village of Carcaliu was untrue. ‘I did not burn them,’ she said in a soft voice... Of his client’s earlier story, [her lawyer] said bluntly: ‘She was lying. What she said before was 100 percent untrue.’”
posted by koeselitz at 10:16 AM on July 22, 2013


Yeah, now that she realizes how much hot water she's in, she didn't really burn the paintings. How the antique nails and pigments got in her stove is anyone's guess.
posted by swift at 1:54 PM on July 22, 2013


A strange line from the latest NYT story: "Her son, who wore a tight black T-shirt and bluejeans, stood silently throughout the proceedings, flexing his biceps as defense lawyers and a state prosecutor argued. "
posted by stopgap at 2:27 PM on July 22, 2013


I hope she's telling the truth this time.
posted by homunculus at 7:18 PM on July 22, 2013




The suspected ringleader [Radu Dogaru] of a band of thieves who stole artworks by Picasso, Monet and Matisse from a Dutch museum still has access to five of the pictures and is ready to hand them over in return for a Dutch trial, his Romanian lawyer said.
posted by snaparapans at 7:01 AM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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