Museum guard slashes a Celmins Pittsburgh

June 9, 2008

A painting from Vija Celmins’s series “Night Sky” has been damaged by a guard of the Carnegie Museum, causing $1.2 million of material damage, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Timur Serebrykov, 27, of Greenfield, Pittsburgh, used a key to lacerate the canvas; this act of vandalism seems to have come about for one reason: when arrested by police, on May 20, Serebrykov said simply that he didn’t like the painting!

The painting illustrates a starry sky; it doesn’t hold any political or religious meanings that could incite an act of iconoclasm.

Serebrykov’s lawyer, James Sheets, will use the mental health act in his client’s defense. His client doesn’t appear to have anything particular against the art system, and claims the act was merely an expression of his taste.

The art piece has been lost, with Ellen Baxter, the museum’s chief conservator confirming that the large vertical gouge through the middle has been fatal to the canvas.

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