Museum files complaint against vandal who damaged painting about Russian war crimes in Ukraine

12 May, 02:13 PM
A picture about the crimes of the Russians in Buch (Photo:Instagram wawiwawew)

A picture about the crimes of the Russians in Buch (Photo:Instagram wawiwawew)

A former member of a far-right French party vandalized a painting by Swiss artist Miriam Cahn, which showcased Russian war crimes in Bucha, French publication ArtNews reported on May 9.

The man, identified as Pierre Chassen, had been previously affiliated with the National Rally party – renamed from the National Front (FN) – run by French politician Marine le Pen. Chassen is said to have run the party’s office in Les Mureaux, a city near Paris.

The painting, titled “fuck abstraction!”, is part of a current Cahn exhibition at the modern art museum Palais de Tokyo and is set to finish its run on May 14. It features a smaller figure with its hands bound performing fellatio on a taller, muscular one.

Video of day

The vandalism took place on May 7. In a picture published by Franceinfo, the work appears to be spattered with purple paint that obscures – but does not entirely hide – the scene beneath it.

“Cahn stated that she painted the work after encountering reports in 2022 about mass graves in Bucha and war crimes perpetrated by Russians against Ukrainians, including forms of sexual assault,” ArtNews wrote.

"She and the Palais de Tokyo made this context explicit in the form of texts made available to the public, and the museum took measures to keep minors from seeing the work.”

The vandal faces a fine of €100,000 ($109,000) and a seven-year prison sentence.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on May 8, “To attack a work is to attack our values. In France, art is always free and respect for cultural creation is guaranteed.”

The country’s Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, reacted to the arrest of the perpetrator on Twitter, stating that “a former member of the National Rally attacks the work of Miriam Cahn after the slanderous campaign of [Marine le Pen’s] party. And this is after the court ruled that this painting, which exposes the horrors of war, can be exhibited.”

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