Slashing The Painting

From AP News: A former guard, Timur Serebrykov at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, has pleaded guilty to slashing a $1.2 million painting with a key and faces sentencing on April 7. Serebrykov slashed Night Sky 2 by Latvian artist Vija Celmins on May 16 because he didn’t like it.


Night Sky, Nice Key
Night sky, Key to publicity

Of three parties, sure Mr. Serebrykov would seem to have the facts working against him. But what about the museum, which only paid $5000 for repair, but insisted that the painting is worth $240,000 less now and wants compensated. If I were Vija Celmins, at least I would be happy to know the painting made the news among all the paintings in Carnegie International 2008. Also, has the musuem counted the dramatic downturn of the contemporary art market?

Personally, the painting does not touch me, at least not through the available online images. It is not something  provocative or slightly repulsive like those by Bacon or Gilbert and George. Since I cannot see the emotional power from the painting itself, could the reason of vadalism be something beyond the stretcher bars? I do not know, but I am sure more news will come when the trial begins.

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 – 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that “his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.


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