A couple of weeks back, Brainiac readers heard about Vladimir Umanets, who defaced a valuable Rothko in London's Tate Modern; he was also interviewed in an Ideas story last week. Umanets had theoretical reasons for vandalizing the Rothko, but there are also less theoretical reason a young man might tag a painting: to attract attention!
That strategy has worked out well for another young vandal. Uriel Landeros, 22, allegedly walked into a museum in Houston earlier this year and added a bullfighter and the word "conquista" to Picasso's "Woman in a Red Armchair." Now, he has his own gallery show. Titled “Houston, We Have a Problem,“ it opened Friday at Cueto James Art Gallery.
The gallery owner, James Perez, told the AP why he reached out to the artist: "It's just taking something and making it your own. I like what Uriel did. That it makes it yours."
You have to wonder how Landeros would react if another artist walked into his show and added to any of his works.
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
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Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.