Art Vandals


Mark Rothko’s Black on Maroon was audaciously defaced yesterday. Which got us thinking about the long history of art vandalism whether you are devastated, entertained, livid or ecstatic, you’re probably talking about it. Here’s our top five art vandals.

Top Five Art Vandals

Jubal Brown made history in 1996 when he vomited primary colours on paintings including this Mondrian, in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. The 22 year old contended that his vomit was in fact an artistic statement about

oppressively trite and painfully banal art


In 1972 Laszlo Toth attacked the Pieta wielding a geologist’s hammer, shouting –

I am Jesus Christ – risen from the dead!

It took him fifteen blows, but he succeeded in removing the Virgin’s arm at the elbow, knocked off a chunk of her nose and chipped one of her eyelids. Toth managed to escape criminal charges due to his ‘apparent’ insanity. However, he was ordered to spend two years in a psychiatric hospital.



On 10 March 1914, Mary Richardson went at the Rokeby Venus with a meat cleaver in order to avenge the arrest of her fellow suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

Richardson was tried and ordered to spend six months in prison (the maximum sentence allowed for destruction of an artwork). This may be a personal favourite, one has to give Richardson kudos for her ferocious attack. The meat cleaver is a nice touch.


Tony Shafrazi really went to town on this one in 1974, spray painting


Thankfully the painting was so heavily varnished it was no problem removing the grammatically incorrect defacement. And we can all rest easy, because Shafrazi now owns an art gallery where he shows Picassos.

noj 1957

In January 2012, Carmen Tisch (who seems like a real sweetheart) got drunk, punched this Clyfford Still painting and rubbed her butt against it. Then – not quite satisfied with her efforts – attempted to piss on it. Thanks Carmen, you’re great.

Composition With Red and Blue, Piet Mondrian, 1930
Pieta, Michelangelo, 1498-99
Rokeby Venus, Diego Velazquez, 1647-51
Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937
1957-J no.2, Clyfford Still, 1957

-Megan Conery