Man Caught On Tape Vandalizing A Picasso At Houston Art Museum

In a brazen display of vandalism and apparent misguided expression, a Houston man was caught on mobile phone and surveillance camera spray painting Picasso’s 1929 “Woman in a Red Armchair,” according to The Houston Chronicle.

The currently unknown vandal painted an image of a bullfighter killing a bull and sprayed the word “Conquista” on the painting, which is housed at The Menil Collection in Houston, an eyewitness told KPRC-TV in Houston. 

An anonymous witness to the attack told KPRC that he began recording his video when he saw the man creep dangerously close to the painting’s canvas. After the defacement, the onlooker sprinted after the graffiti artist who told him that he had “retouched” the rare painting as a way to make a name for himself and honour Picasso’s work.

Let us be unequivocal in declaring — because apparently in Houston there is some confusion on the matter — that tastelessly tagging a masterpiece with ill-conceived scribbles is NOT an acceptable mode of self-expression, nor will it ever be construed as an homage. A matador slaying a bull is on nearly every t-shirt sold in Spain. It’s far from being a wondrously original graphical depiction.

A few supposed patrons of the arts in Houston just don’t get this idea, however. The onlooker, instead of reporting the vandal to the police, actually congratulated him. “I thought it was cool how he went up to the painting without fear, spray painted it, and walked off,” the amateur videographer and vandalism enthusiast told KPRC. 

But it’s not cool. Luckily the Menil staff rushed the damaged painting off to the art world’s version of an ICU — the Menil’s conservation lab. There, with the graffiti barely dry, museum officials began their repairs. Luckily, the painting is expected to make a quick recovery. 

Here’s a video of the vandalism. Warning: some of the language used in the video is NSFW.

Update: The graffiti vandal has been identified by Univision as young Mexican American artist Uriel Landeros. He left a tweet trail, as well, writing on March 29 “one day Pablo one day” and then on April 29, “la bestia se conquista” (the beast is conquered). Here’s his twitter account.

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