‘The Dead Christ’ 1500-20
The art: An anonymous limestone carving of Christ, probably made as part of a medieval funeral monument.
The damage: Christ’s right arm, part of his left arm, sections of his legs and feet, his crown of thorns and the top of his head are missing after what’s thought to be a deliberate assault.
The motive: Protestant iconoclasm. During the reign of Henry VI in the 1540s, all images were ordered to be removed from churches. It’s assumed the attack took place during this time, when it was also taken down and stored, possibly to save it from more damage. It was discovered during building work at the Mercers’ Chapel in the City in the 1950s.
‘Charles I’ 1638-39, Hubert Le suer
The art: A full-length bronze statue of Charles I, installed in Winchester Cathedral in 1639.
The damage: During a rampage, ‘Atheisticall Rebells’ broke Charles’s sword and the cross on his orb. A musket ball hole is still visible in his left leg.
The motive: Anti-Stuart feeling. The rebels objected to ‘Representation of his Royall Person’ and emblems of Charles’s sacred power.
BEHEADED (and MELTED)
Fragment of the Equestrian Statue of George III 1770-76, Joseph Wilton
The art: A sculpture of George III (1738-1820) on his trusty steed, which was originally erected at Fort George, Manhattan. Or what’s left of it.
The damage: Poor George was toppled and beheaded by George Washington’s troops following a public reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The motive: Anti-British sentiment. Much of the sculpture was melted down and made into bullets which, resourcefully, were fired at British soldiers.
‘Oliver Cromwell’ Seventeenth century, British school
The art: An undated portrait of Cromwell, the only commoner in our history to serve as head of state.
The damage: The Indian prince Frederick Duleep Singh (1886-1926) hung this portrait upside down in his gallery of royal portraits at Blo Norton Hall, Norfolk.
The motive: A fervent monarchist, Duleep Singh intended the inversion to be a mark of disrespect. But the act was purely symbolic – Cromwell was hanged in 1661 (after being exhumed from Westminster Abbey).
‘Chair’ 1969, Allen Jones
The art: Woman as armchair by British pop artist Allen Jones. You could get away with that sort of thing in the ’60s…
The attack: … But not in the ’80s. The sculpture attracted controversy the moment it was acquired by the Tate in 1981. In 1986 two assailants poured paint stripper over the mannequin’s face, shrivelling its ‘skin’.
The motive: Since the attack took place on International Women’s Day, it’s assumed the action was a feminist protest, but those responsible were never caught. It has since been restored.
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The Amsterdam-based artist known for her immersive film installations talks to Time Out about her two London shows: ‘Inventory’, which takes inspiration from the eclectic Sir John Soane’s Museum, and ‘Ghost Dwellings’, an installation which focuses on natural and economic disasters in Detroit, Cork and Japan. You don’t live in London, so what attracted you to Sir John Soane’s Museum?‘I noticed that when I was preparing for a show in Rome I kept thinking about Soane’s. I had been doing a lot of research into collections and considering how long we’ve had public museums, and his place is very much a starting point to think about that. And of course, it’s fantastic.’ What aspects of the museum did you want to focus on?‘I focused on the areas (where) he hung what he called his “marbles”: all the architectural fragments and things he collected from ancient Rome and Greece. I’m not interested in trying to replicate the museum. Why should I? It’s a unique place and everyone should go – and everyone does, I think. Instead, I was very interested in the idea of the original and the copy, because there are a lot of plaster casts on display. It got me thinking about the medium.’ Is that why you chose to shoot the film on six different formats?‘Basically I decided to choose not to choose. Usually when I’m preparing a piece I make tests with different cameras and I thought maybe it’s interesting to bring that to the forefront in ‘Inventory’ – the fact that there are all these mediums aRead more
Moscow-born, New York-based painter Sanya Kantarovsky has teamed up with performance artist Ieva Misevičiūtė for his show at Studio Voltaire, which is inspired by Mikhail Bulgakov’s surreal, satirical novel about the Devil’s visit to Moscow, ‘The Master and Margarita’. On the opening night, Misevičiūtė performed on a stage shaped like ‘Behemoth’ – the book’s diabolical black cat. A film of the performance is on show in the gallery foyer, while the cat remains as a sculpture-cum-bench from which you can admire Kantarovsky’s spellbinding paintings. Time Out caught up with him. How did the show come about?‘The show came out of a collaborative process with performance artist Ieva Misevičiūtė. Most of the figures in the paintings are based on a series of gesture studies I made of her movements in my studio. When she performs in the gallery space there’s an indexical relationship between her body and the gestures in the paintings.’ How conscious were you of making work for a former church?‘I was responding to the history of the space as a church, which made sense with the novel's Christian meta-narrative. I approached this as a site-specific installation rather than a straightforward painting show. There was an internal debate about how the space would exist after Ieva's performance because her presence throws the status of the paintings into question. When Ieva is on stage, they comprise an environment for her performance and become contingent on her body.’ It’s very dramaticRead more