Eye to eye #2

A horrible act of vandalism in a Russian art gallery occurred last December.

Vandal added eyes to figures in painting by Malevich’s studentThe Art Newspaper Russia
Anna Leporskaya’s painting “Three Figures” (1932-1934) from the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery, provided for the exhibition “The World as Non-Objectivity. The Birth of a New Art” to the Yekaterinburg Foundation “Presidential Center of B.N. Yeltsin”, as it became known to our publication, suffered from the hands of a vandal. An unknown person drew small eyes with a ballpoint pen on the abstract faces of two figures in the picture.

A somewhat different set of art gallery eyes than Chris Eckert’s, certainly, but still a case for the local police, surely?

Russian police won’t investigate after vandal draws eyes on painting at museumARTnews
Once the damage was reported, law enforcement agencies refused to open a criminal case because there were no signs of a crime as defined by the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Since the image did not look fundamentally different, and since the painting was no longer in Yekaterinburg at that time (it had returned to Moscow for restoration by the time police got involved), the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation sent a complaint to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office about the refusal to initiate a criminal case. When asked about the subject, Alexander Drozdov, executive director of the Yeltsin Center, said, “We were not even slightly puzzled when police decided not to open the case, because based on their damage assessment there was no legal grounds for [an investigation]. They say ‘no,’ you obey. We’re law-abiding citizens.”

Turns out it was another inside job.

“Bored” security guard draws eyes on faceless Russian painting on his first dayIt’s Nice That
Anna Leporskaya’s Three Figures, a painting on display at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center, has been vandalised by a security worker, who scribbled small eyes on two of the figures with a ballpoint pen. In what is possibly one of the worst first-day-on-the-job horror stories in recent history, the security guard had apparently worked at the gallery for less than 24 hours before he drew on the painting; Three Figures is insured for approximately £740,000.

Russian gallery guard charged after drawing eyes on avant-garde painting with ballpoint penThe Art Newspaper
The guard has been fired and was last week detained by police on criminal vandalism charges. He faces a fine of up to RUB 74.9m (£738,000)—the amount the painting was insured for—and up to one year of correctional labour or up to three months in prison, according to The Times.

Author: Terry Madeley

Works with student data and enjoys reading about art, data, education and technology.

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