Other Infamous Cases of Defaced Artworks

Guest Post

The art community has been in a state of shock of late, thanks to a man by the name of Vladimir Umanets who walked straight up to a Mark Rothko painting at the Tate Modern in London, and vandalized it with a marker pen. The vandalism reads ‘A potential piece of yellowism’ besides Vladimir’s own name. The definition of ‘yellowism’ is anyone’s guess, but Umanets claims it is neither art, nor anti-art. The art world was confused and shocked by this; especially at Umanets remarks about how his vandalism would increase the price of the painting (which is highly doubtful). One of Rothko’s pieces was sold for 53.8 million pounds.

However, vandalism is no new thing in the world of art. In fact, it has been going on for centuries. Here are five examples of how artwork has been defaced & vandalised in the past.

Mona Lisa

402px Mona Lisa%2C by Leonardo da Vinci%2C from C2RMF retouched defaced artworkcredit: Wikipedia

The Mona Lisa is one of the world’s most famous pieces of art; which is funny for a painting which has so much mystery surrounding it. The painting itself has been subject to a number of thefts & attacks, the most famous being in 1911 where a very passionate art employee in the Louvre in Paris (Vincenzo Peruggia) stole it in effort to return it to Italy where it belonged. In the 1950s, old Mona didn’t have the best old luck either; she was doused in acid and had a rock hurled at her. After all of this, Mona was kept in bullet-proof glass to avoid future incidents.

Rokeby Venus

RokebyVenus defaced artworkcredit: Wikipedia

In protest to Emily Pankhurst, the famous suffragette, being arrested; Mary Robinson strode into the National Gallery and gave Diego Valaquez’s masterpiece ‘Rokeby Venus’ a good seeing to. The picture is of a naked woman staring into a mirror clutching a meat cleaver. Since the government had apparently destroyed the most beautiful woman in modern history Emily Pankhurst, Robinson’s rationale was to destroy the most beautiful girl in ancient/mythical history. Makes perfect sense…right?

Black Sheep

The Future of Art Damien Hirst defaced artworkcredit: Wikipedia

It’s well known that Damien Hirst splits the art world right down the middle, he’s marmite; you either love him or hate him. Many people look upon his art with eyes of confusion, mumbling the words ‘why am I looking at a dead cow? This isn’t art! This is just tat’. However, Hirst must be doing something right being valued at £215 million – making him the wealthiest living artist of all time. With his famous exhibition ‘Black Sheep’, an artist who remains unnamed poured a vat of ink into the tank containing a sheep in formaldehyde with the intention of making is art better.


666px Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn 026 defaced artworkcredit: Wikipedia

This painting by Rembrandt attracted a certain clinically insane chap in 1985. The wayward gentleman took a knife and stuck it into the painting twice, which really caused some major damage. If that wasn’t enough, the insane man also chucked some sulphuric acid on it for good measure. Even though the painting was pretty wrecked, the experts did a 10/10 job on its restoration.

The Little Mermaid

defaced artworkcredit: Wikipedia

In Copenhagen harbour lies the statue of the Little Mermaid; a beautiful bronze sea create which has been actually beheaded a couple of times. Since 1964 when it was first placed in the harbour, the Mermaid hasn’t had the best of luck; being subject to multiple decapitations, being shot in in the knees and wrists and even having her poor arm sawed off. The fact is, someone really hates mermaids in Copenhagen.
As you can see through history there have been multiple cases of vandalism on art. It makes you think what could be next; maybe a Picasso will be set on fire – or even a Dali thrown to some alligators? You never know what art-destroying scheme the next vandal may cook up.

This article was compiled by Bo Newman; a writer and blogger for the PrinterInks ink cartridge online store.


  1. I don’t get how people get so caught up with something like that, that they go ahead and destroy art. Weird to me.

  2. Wow! I can’t believe people would deface any work of art, let alone ones of this caliber.

  3. I don’t understand why people would want to ruin art.

  4. Seriously what is the point of ruining art? But then many things in this world that people do seem pointless.

  5. Great read. I’m looking forward to cheking out more comments later.

  6. I visited the Louve in 1996, and couldn’t wait to see Mona for myself. I was a little surprised to see how small it was, and how much security surrounded the tiny, little painting!

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