Showing posts with label art damage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art damage. Show all posts

December 18, 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017 - ,, No comments

Islamist iconoclast attacks statue in Sétif, Algeria

Faiza Mostafa, an Alegerian journalist based in Paris, France, has published an account of a new attack against culture, this time in Sétif, Algeria.  Earlier this morning, a sledgehammer-wielding Islamist iconoclast attacked the emblematic Ain El Fouara Fountain by French sculptor Francis de Saint-Vidal, chiseling away at parts of the statue. 

Mostafa wrote on her Facebook page:

Reminiscent of the Taliban’s attacks on the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan and ISIS attacks in Syria and Iraq,  the culprit, dressed in a qamis, was caught in the act as he pounded furiously on the iconic fountain statue. Apprehended by authorities, he obliterated the statue's face and breasts while a crowd gathered below, some of whom filmed the incident as it was happening.

A second video, taken from another angle, shows the angry crowd in Sétif, Algeria taking action against the vandal from a safe distance, hurling multiple objects, including a police baton, from a relatively safe distance.  This was done perhaps out of concern for being struck themselves or out of concern that the culprit might have explosives.

At one point the vandal turns to retaliate against the crowd, attempting to strike out at the citizens intervening, only to angrily return to hammering away at the hundred-year-old artwork, not solely to the statue's breasts and face.

Shortly thereafter, another civilian, dressed in striped jogging pants, approaches the man while swinging a shovel and twice attempts to strike him in response to his actions.

This counter-attack allowed police the window of opportunity to scale the fountain base and ultimately apprehend the Islamist before he could do further damage.

Unfortunately this is not the first time that the statue of a naked French woman gracing a fountain fifty meters from the central mosque of Sétif has been the subject of religious controversy and mistreatment. 

In 2015, an imam from a mosque 71 miles away in Aba Dhar El-Ghifari, El Khroub, told his followers, "Beware of you if you prostrate yourself before anyone other than God, beware of prostrating yourself before the statue of Ain Fouara." In his sermon about sinful (Arabic: haram) actions which constituted apostasy (Arabic: kofr), the imam signalled that it was wrong for the faithful to drink water from the treacherous fountain, as to do so could be considered bowing in prostration before the image of a nude woman. 

On February 28, 2006 another young man also attempted to deface the statue with a hammer, and in the early morning hours of April 22, 1997 the fountain was broken in several places after dynamite was placed at the base of the statue, toppling her over.

Another incident, captured by Google Streetview.

February 1, 2014

Associated Press' Mariam Rizk reports on UNESCO's shock at Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo

Mariam Rizk for the Associated Press reported yesterday from a news conference that "UNESCO team 'shocked' at Egypt Islamic Museum Loss":
CAIRO (AP) — UNESCO pledged Friday to help restore a renowned museum dedicated to Islamic history in Cairo that was devastated by a bomb last week, with officials expressing "shock" at the scale of the damage. [...] Egypt's Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said that 164 of the 1,471 items on display were damaged, of which 90 could be reassembled or restored. Most of the 74 irreparably damaged items were glass and porcelain, smashed to powder. On a tour of the building on Friday, shattered glass littered the floor while fragments and steel slabs from the broken windows lay all over. 
"It was an outstanding museum and to see it now, inside at least, totally destroyed is a big shock for us," Christian Manhart, head of UNESCO's museums sections, said at a news conference. The U.N. cultural agency had already set aside emergency funds of $100,000 on the same day of the blast and said further technical and financial help would follow after detailed reports were filed. Ibrahim said the American government would provide 1 million Egyptian pounds (about $150,000) while a well-known actor, Mohammed Sobhy, said he was giving 50,000 pounds (around $7,200).
Ibrahim said Egypt's National Library and Archives in the same building with the museum was also damaged. In addition, the blast smashed windows and caused other damage to historic mosques in the neighborhood. [...] Friday's visit to the museum was by a joint mission involving UNESCO and two protection and conservation groups, the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the International Committee of the Blue Shield. Manhart said the team will also prepare documents and figures to be presented to potential donors, which he was not authorized to name immediately. [...] Three years of unrest has devastated Egypt's economy, including the vital tourism industry, and the security vacuum has taken a heavy toll on the country's monuments. In one of the worst incidents, looters made away with more than 1,000 artifacts from a museum in the southern city of Malawi as violent clashes roiled the country in August. Ibrahim said Friday that the restoration of the Malawi Museum will be done in six months.
Other museums have also been hit, including the famed Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square that holds Pharaonic antiquities including the treasures of King Tut. During the 2011 uprising would-be looters damaged mummies and other artifacts before being caught by army soldiers. Some items stolen from museums or archaeological sites have been recovered. The ministry said Friday that 935 stolen Pharaonic artifacts were found in a house in Cairo's twin city of Giza. The pieces included masks, pots, and statues. Security forces said they also confiscated guns and ammunition.
Here's a link to Lynda Albertson's post on the initial reports of damage to the Museum of Islamic Art. 

On January 24, the UNESCO World Heritage website had reported "Director-General Condemns Destruction to the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, Egypt":
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today expressed grave concern about the damage to Egypt’s Museum of Islamic Art, following the reported explosion of a car near the Police Security Directorate, which is located at Port Said Street in Cairo, in front of the main entrance of the Museum. “I firmly condemn this attack and the destruction it has caused to the world-renowned Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, which hosts thousands of invaluable artefacts,” said Irina Bokova. “This raises the danger of irreversible damage to the history and identity of the Egyptian people.” 
The Director-General applauded the Ministry of State for Antiquities, as well as representatives from civil society in Cairo, for their immediate action and efforts to rescue damaged artefacts and take first measures for their conservation. “In the spirit of solidarity, I appeal today to all Member States to support action to rehabilitate the Museum, the galleries and displays,” concluded Irina Bokova. “I pledge today that I will mobilise all of UNESCO’s experience and expertise to rebuilding the Museum and restoring the damage – this is as essential for the people of Egypt as it is for women and men across the world,” declared the Director-General. “This heritage is part of the universal story of humanity, shared by all and we must all do everything to safeguard it.”

January 25, 2013

Portrait of a Museum Robbery: The 1998 Theft of Tissot's "Still on Top" from the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki

At ten minutes past 11 o'clock in the morning on Sunday, August 9th, 1998, a man with a shotgun entered the Auckland Art Gallery, threatened nearby visitors, then went directly to one of the collections most valuable paintings, James Tissot's "Still on Top" (c 1873).  The thief ripped the painting from the wall, smashed its glass into the painting, and used a crowbar to pry the canvas out of its frame.  He then ran outside the gallery into a nearby park and escaped on a motorcycle.  The robbery took less than four minutes.

Here in this YouTube video, Auckland Art Gallery - Restoring Tissot, is surveillance footage of the crime, the story of the damaged painting recovery nine days later, and the long process of restoration for public display.

James Tissot's "Still on Top"
Many of the original newspaper stories published in The New Zealand Herald can be ordered via email through the Auckland City Council Library here.

The man arrested eight days later had demanded a ransom of more than $260,000 from the Auckland Art Gallery and hidden the damaged work underneath a bed.  One year later, Anthony Sannd was found guilty and sentenced to nearly 17 years in jail, including charges related to two armed robberies of a security van and a bank branch.

The New Zealand art museum accepted $500,000 for the loss in value for the damaged Tissot painting and was able to repair the work and return it for public display three years later.

On February 1, 2005, the thief, Anthony Sannd (also known as Ricardo Genovese), escaped from a prison farm and eluded recapture for almost four weeks (during which time he was alleged to have stolen a BMW and burgled a home).  Two more years was added to his sentence.  Sannd was released from jail in March 2012.  Then Sannd filed a claim that the government owed him $100,000 for keeping him in jail six months longer than he had been sentenced.

November 5, 2012

MoMA Director Glenn Lowry's Responds to Hurricane Sandy; NYC museum works with American Institute for Conservation Collections Emergency Response Team

Yesterday Glenn D. Lowry, director of The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, sent an email letter to the art institution's "members and friends" expressing concern for those people affected by Hurricane Sandy:
Our foremost concern has been for our neighbors and friends who have suffered so much hardship and damage.  A MoMA curator and the director of MoMAPS1 put out a call for volunteers from the art community and together they filled a bus with donated supplies and headed to one of the many areas in need of help today.  This is but a small part of the relief effort, but we were humbled by the incredible commitment of the volunteers.  Our staff will continue to play a role in the recovery, and we invite those of you who are able to join us in these efforts.
The Museum of Modern Art's conservation staff and speakers from the American Institute for Conservation Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) were scheduled to meet Sunday in "a series of workshops to help the many artists and galleries whose works were affected by Hurricane Sandy":
They will provide suggestions and answer questions on how to safely handle damaged paintings, drawings, books, sculptures, and other artistic and cultural materials.  Visit for more information on this program.  MoMA has also issued Immediate Response for Collections, a document offering step-by-step guidelines for dealing with artworks damaged by flooding, and we will continue to lend knowledge and support to those carrying for collections affected by the storm.
If you are in a position to help others, you may want to visit for information on making donations and for information on volunteer opportunities.  Visitors to MoMA will also find a collection box in the Museum's lobby, with proceeds to be donated to relief efforts in Greater New York.