Last Thursday at the Louvre-Lens, a second venue in northern France, Eugene Delacroix's iconic painting 'La Liberte Guidant le Peuple' (or for those of us that don't speak French, 'Liberty Guiding the People') was vandalized. The perpetrator was a 28 year old woman who's cryptic message was attributed to the group Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. This posed two questions for me. The first, why vandalize in the first place; and secondly, what does this mean for these highly attended art institutions?
Vandalism is nothing new, especially in the art world. It is an act of retaliating against supposed propaganda from all venues of Church and State or in some cases a desperate act for fame. But, with all of the mass media and easy technology... we are really still doing this? It seems a bit much. Tweet your thoughts, Facebook them, or I don't know, make a really fancy Indesign flyer. Perhaps by NOT using any of these methods the perpetrator was also acting out about mass media as propaganda, or just had the Sharpie readily available.
Incidences like this one bring to light more and more the possible destruction of history. Will cultural institutions strike back at these vandals and no longer allow certain pieces to be viewed? Is that ethical to their mission as houses of culture and history? How will these incidences affect the next generation in viewing art? Museums can continue the use of 'sneeze guards' (the plastic covering of a painting) and the use of guards, ropes, and motion sensors. But all of these are expensive to implement and in some cases hard to enforce.
So, I pose this question. What is next?