So another piece of artwork was attacked with a hammer, this time at the National Gallery of Art, in D.C.. They cannot speculate on the motive of this criminal act, the glass was broken, as well as part of the canvas underneath. The spokesperson says it can be repaired. Now, they're tightening up on security measures -- as if we needed more of those.
Besides the high popularity of the sitter and the artist, this is my only speculation on why someone would have wanted to attack a piece of art. It is considered as one of the National Gallery's important pieces in their collection.
My questions is: Why is it often done with a hammer instead something say, like, a crowbar, a Maglite flashlight, or a cane? A hammer isn't a common object to be carrying around in your bag and isn't less conspicuous than, say a Maglite. I guess, a crowbar would bring a raised eyebrow from anyone, and a hammer is insured to complete the job, whereas a Maglite wouldn't. Imagine an attacker running with a mad look on their face, like one of those actors in the movie Braveheart, and barely chipping their target, then getting arrested for criminal attack.
Art attacks in history (with a hammer):
- January 2006, Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, Paris (note: the same attacker also urinated on the piece when it was exhibited in Nimes, so he clearly had an obsession with Duchamp's urinal. In fact, he considers it performance art. Any thoughts from performance artists on this?)
- October 1997, Andres Serrano's Piss Christ, Australia (8 times! Did they know that the attack actually brought more publicity to something they didn't want to exist? I think not.)
- May 1972, Michelangelo's Pieta, Vatican City
Art attacks in history (not necessarily with a hammer):
- July 2002, marble statue of Margaret Thatcher, London (Okay, a cricket bat.)
- December 1999, Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary, Brooklyn
- October 1997, Andres Serrano's Piss Christ, Australia (The day before those teenagers attacked it with a hammer 8 times. Again: Did they know that the attack actually brought more publicity to something they didn't want to exist? I think not, again.)
On why people choose to attack art:
- Attackers may want their 15 minute claim to fame, and instead of making a masterpiece they'd rather attack a popular piece of art.
- Religious or political reasons.
- Madness. (eg/ Laszlo Toth)
On why with a hammer:
It does the job.
On visiting museums:
Bring your pencils and drawing pads, leave the hammer at home.