Return to Woman in a Red Armchair (event)

Every [I will show you the art of Creation|act of creation] is first an act of [Abolition of art|destruction].

Woman in a Red Armchair is a [1929] painting by [Pablo Picasso|Picasso] of a woman in a red chair. Unless you're really good at [analytic cubism|analyzing cubism], you'll need to know the title of this painting if you want to know that the triangles are in fact feminine.  

In [1956] the painting became part of the private collection of two wealthy Europeans who moved to America after WWII. The Menils settled in Texas. Twenty-five years ago, the widow Dominique de Menil created a [museum] in [Houston, Texas] which would not charge admission. This particular Picasso is one of ten in the Menil Collection. As far as paintings go, it's on the small size but by no means miniature. Its estimated value is in the [commodity|tens of millions of US dollars].

[June 13, 2012|One day earlier this summer] this painting became [all art is quite useless|more important] when a masked man approached this painting and placed a [stencil] in between the eyes of the canvas and proceeded to [tagging|apply gold spray paint]. In ten seconds, the image of a [bull] and the word [conquest|conquista] could be seen more clearly than the woman or her armchair. The masked man [exit through the gift shop|exited] the [The art gallery was quiet as a church|scene].

A cell phone recorded the incident. The video was later posted to [the weird part of youtube|Youtube]. Soon thereafter the video appeared on the FaceBook page of one [Uriel] Landeros, who identified himself as the masked man. Supposedly the cell phone belongs to a random person who did not know Landeros beforehand.

No surveillance video from the museum has been released. The museum does not expect to make any changes in security.

[T.A.Z.: Art Sabotage|Art is the lie] that tells [Art is the lie that tells the truth|the truth.]

Landeros is a 22 year old [Being an artist warps the mind|working artist]. News reports have alternately described him as a "street artist" (due to the fact that stencils and spray paint are tools of what is widely considered to be [vandalism]) and "[conceptual art|conceptual]" (given the [performance art|performative] aspect to his act). Judging from [|his blog] it seems safe to say that he paints.

[|Video of the incident may be seen here.] 

On the video, the person holding the cell phone may be heard whispering [WTF|what the fuck] several times during and after the event. At the end of the clip, the cautious voice of a security guard may be heard stating "You know you're not allowed to take pictures here". Unbowed, the man with the camera says he knows and continues filming. The security guard repeats his statement, shouting. The footage ends. News reports would later embed the video without edits. 

In March of this year, Landeros made the (at the time) enigmatic [The zombie revolution will not be televised. But it will be tweeted.|tweet] "[Luckily, you will perish one day.|one day] [pablo] [And then one day you wake up|one day]". As to why the 13th of June was chosen as that day remains a mystery.  

Since then, Landeros has managed to [How To Disappear Completely|disappear]. There are rumors that he defected to [Mexico]. He was charged with Criminal Mischief and [Someone's sprayed graffiti on that hideously ugly piece of public art!|Felony Graffiti], both third degree [felony|felonies].  

What is a [this is a commission for painters of:|painter]? A collector who wants to gather a collection by painting himself the pictures he likes [No More Masterpieces Manifesto|in the works of others].

Most amusingly, this was not the first time that a Picasso was spray painted: [Tony Shafrazi] wrote the message KILL LIES ALL on [Guernica[by Girlface]|Guernica] in [1974]. The spray paint was quickly removed but Shafrazi's reputation was set. A few years later he would become a highly successful [art dealer], with galleries in Tehran and New York. 

Earlier this summer Landeros authorized the use of video of the incident in the promotion of an [parallel art galleries|art show]—effectively claiming ownership of the work by a "random stranger". [In the future everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes|It remains to be seen whether Uriel Landeros will do as well as Shfrazi]. 

So far he has been largely vilified as being self-serving, ridiculed for being ignorant and (perhaps worst of all) largely ignored for his act. Many were [Art or vandalization?|left scratching their heads]. A disproportionate majority of Youtube viewers of aforementioned cell phone video clicked the "thumbs down" to indicate their [dislike]; most did not indicate any preference one way or the other. Even in the art world, few consider that Picasso would have relished the attention. Indeed, Picasso is said to have once painted over a work by [Modigliani].

[The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)|For me, an image is the sum of destructions]

A Google image search for "Woman in a red armchair" brings up more altered images of the painting than originals. Picasso also did a Nude Woman in a Red Armchair, which is recognizably human. This other work was the subject of more recent attention due to a print of it causing a disturbance in the [Edinburgh] Airport, on account of a [boob].

[Fnord|Landeros is originally from Edinburg, Texas.]  

His activity has since been sporadic. He has twice now in the past month communicated with a Houston-based blog syndicate, touting rhetoric fresh from [Occupy Wall Street|Occupy]. He claims [art appreciation|a love for museums] but hates that museums "steal art" from indigenous cultures. It is worth noting that the museum Landeros chose to target, the Menil, actively strives towards [Don't believe us - we're all cultural prostitutes|cultural stewardship]. Earlier this year they returned a series of frescoes (which they purchased in the 1980s with the intent to restore) to the church in [Cyprus] [Third Crusade|where they were stolen almost a thousand years ago]. Even so, the Menil does contain a number of art from indigenous peoples of Asia and Africa—it is likely that those peoples were not invited to any gallery openings. My guess is that Landeros chose the Menil ([art saves lives|a free museum]) because [starving artist|he couldn't pay] the admission to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts or maybe he had predetermined that the Picassos at the other museums in town did not have sufficient [white space] for his [tag].

After the first blog interview, Landeros released a statement via Youtube en [|Espanol] and in [|English]. In these videos, he appears shirtless and deathly serious. [I never know what to do with my hands|His hands are not visible.] The text he recited was sent out as a press release; many media outlets chose not to run it. 

Supposedly, there are US Marshals looking for him. [Where I'm Calling From, A Grand Don't Come For Free|You may report any information as to the activity of Landeros to (+001) 713-308-0900. There's an offer of five grand for information leading to his arrest. FaceBook must not want the cash.]

[for this reason we must burn all art|Ultimately, what is important about a picture is the legend it has created, not whether it is preserved or not.]

A transcription of the statement Landeros posted to Youtube appears below:

I dedicate this to everybody out there who has suffered any kind of [Those who would sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.|injustice], whether from your family, your religion or from your government. And to Pablo Picasso, the intellectual artist who loved [bullfighting] and understood that, [I'd dance forever if they'd let me, you know|at the end of the dance], [All the dead artists|somebody] had to [death in the afternoon|die]. And on this day, [This poem can be put off no longer|it was his turn] — [June 13, 2012].

[I was young and I needed the money|I did this to turn heads], to raise awareness to the world, [The War of Art|to make this a better place for everyone to live in]. My intention was never to destroy Pablo's painting or to insult the Menil. If I would have wanted to [We had to destroy the future in order to save it|destroy the painting], I would have ripped it with a knife or [Hanging paintings on burning walls|burnt] it. [I am tired of trying to change the world one person at a time|But that was never my intention.] [Confessions of a Crap Artist|I'm sorry for insulting anyone who has misunderstood my message], but I'm a good enough [alchemist] to know that the professionals in the Menil could easily [no harm, no foul|restore the piece] with a little bit of [Windex].

My intentions are to give [vox populi|a voice to the public], to all those who go unheard of. Unfortunately, [society of deception|our society has become nothing but a corrupt, war-making, murdering, raping society]. And all the religious and political leaders who will not fight against this problem are to blame. [But the fire doesn't sing to them anymore|In fact, everybody who doesn't fight against this problem is only feeding this chaotic fire.]

[We can all do something to be better.] And all those who are part of the problem should truly be [Fuck art. Let's kill.|persecuted and punished].

[Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone renounced violence forever?|Why don't we begin to create a better society, a better world, a healthier one?] Why is this [Mexico's drug war|government wasting society's money in a never-ending religious drug war], war that only [When you kill people they die|kills our brothers and sisters, war that leaves families without their loved ones]? Instead, focus on [The problem is you're not paranoid enough!|the real problem], the [It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets|murders, the rapists, the thieves, the corrupt politicians in this war].

These are [All politics -- and news -- is local|the real issues]. That's why the world is so [fucked up]. [Catch Me If You Can|Don't look for me]. Look for the [America's Dumbest Criminals|real criminals].

In the end, [Do Whatever You Want All the Time|we all want the same thing] — a safe society, a society where all the kids can run around and play safely in the street. But in order for this to work, [That's the problem now, isn't it?|everyone needs to stop being scared and to stand up for what is right]. We cannot [The future does not belong to fear: it belongs to freedom|let fear control our society.]

[Every "why" question can be answered by a phrase using the word "idiot"|Why] does [One percenter|the one percent] control the [hoi polloi|99 percent]? It is time for some [real change], ladies and gentlemen, [art is propaganda|some real change]. [This dream brought to you by your friendly corporate sponsor|This is the true symbolism behind my activist movement.]

All headings are quotes by Pablo Picasso.



Uriel Landeros turned himself into the authorities in Houston on January 8, 2013. He released the following statement: "I really don't give a (expletive) about the [15 minutes of fame]. If anything, I made that painting more famous than what it is."