It’s not unknown for the work of Jeff Koons to make people’s blood boil, what with the former Wall Street banker’s penchant for supersized banality and multi-million dollar price tags. But at his current retrospective at the Whitney, New York, one artist has gone a step further and used his own blood to decorate a gallery wall with a large and rather messy red X.
In keeping with artistic tradition, the artist signed the X in black marker pen, writing: ‘Monty Cantsin was here, Aug 20, 2014’. Following the incident on Wednesday, which was caught on camera by a visitor to the show, The Whitney issued the following statement:
‘An isolated act of vandalism occurred this afternoon at the Whitney Museum of American Art involving a blank gallery wall on the third floor of the Jeff Koons exhibition. No artwork was affected or damaged in any way. Guards quickly apprehended the individual responsible. The police were called and they removed the individual from the museum. Following standard security protocol, the third floor of the museum was closed briefly and reopened within two hours of the incident.’
‘Monty Cantsin’ is, in fact, a pseudonym regularly used by the Hungarian-born Canadian artist Istvan Kantor, whose website shows an image of a much younger Kantor being manhandled out of an art gallery, and proudly boasts: ‘Banned from most museums around the world’.
As well as drawing an X on the wall of the gallery, Kantor handed out a statement addressed to Koons, which described the action as: ‘a surprise addition to your monumental exhibition and a sign of my high esteem of your exceptional work. Hope you’ll like it. You deserve it because you are an eminent artist represented by the world’s most important museums, contrary to me, a convicted heretic art-criminal banned from most museums.’
The statement continued: ‘You [Jeff Koons] are a heroic sacrificial celebrity and successful double-agent of today’s hyper-hollywoodian art-mafioso establishment that uses corporate power and greed to financially abuse the arts and exploit artists all around the world.’
Kantor describes himself as ‘an action based media artist/ subvertainer/ producer, active in many fields, performance, robotics, mixed-media, installation, painting, sound, music, video and new media.’ This is not the first time he has scrawled an X in blood on a gallery wall.
Speaking to the website Animal New York yesterday, Kantor claims to have been taken to a mental hospital after the Whitney incident. “I was taken by the police to a mental hospital to get diagnosed if I am a lunatic,” he told the site. “After hours of examination, blood and urine tests, conversations with doctors, etc, I was discharged and I am free now.”
Jeff Koons: A Retrospective continues at The Whitney Museum of American Art until October 19 2014.