Twenty-two-year-old Uriel Landeros, now referred to as the “Picasso Vandal,” has been charged with criminal mischief and third degree felony graffiti after spray painting a bull and bullfighter along with the word “conquista” on a Picasso painting at the Menil Collection on June 13. The 1929 Woman in a Red Armchair painting, worth several million dollars, was rushed to the museum’s conservation lab for repair immediately after the act of vandalism.
As well as being caught on surveillance cameras, a so-called bystander “happened” to catch the act on video via his cell phone, which he immediately uploaded to YouTube. The bystander describes himself as an up-and-coming Mexican-American artist seeking to honor Picasso’s work, and identifies Landeros as a young artist. The bystander stands by his claim to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time, and stressed that he had nothing to do with the incident, but that he randomly and unexpectedly ran into the “Picasso Vandal” a few days after the tagging. When the bystander supposedly ran into Landeros, he asked him about his motives– to which Landeros responded with a handwritten letter.
Landeros’s letter read: “I dedicate this to all the people out there who have suffered for any injustice of every kind. To those abused by their loved ones. For those abused by their government. For those who were abused by organized religion. And to Picasso from artist to artist. The beast is meant to be conquered. Picasso loved bullfighting because he knew at the end of the dance, someone had to die and on the day it was his turn.”
After the press got a hold of the incident, Uriel Landeros posted a link to a KPRC Channel 2 news story on the incident to his Facebook page, clearly not interested in keeping a low profile. Why the fuck would anyone do that? Did he simply crave personal attention? Was he attempting to promote his art by pulling a dumbass stunt? Or does he really just hate Picasso that much? What was his real motivation?
The one thing that Landeros definitely succeeded in was getting attention– everyone is reacting so intensely to this act. I wanted to dig deeper and ask around for the specifics on everyone’s thoughts. I reached out via Facebook, asking the public, “What’s your take on the whole situation? Do you think the tagger is an idiot, or just plain brilliant?” As expected, I got differing opinions– some very insightful, and some as hilariously idiotic as the act done by the “Picasso Vandal.”
Here are some of the many replies I received that I found worthy of sharing:
- “Regardless of who the artist is… no one wants their original work spray painted/vandalized. The only statement I get out of this is idiot.” –Crystal Lee
- “It is really very simple. Make art, don’t destroy someone else’s work.” –Patricia Strohl
- “Neither. But I honestly don’t think Picasso would have minded. ‘Every act of creation, starts with an act of destruction.’ Out of all the people that bitched, sayin he [the 'tagger'] was an asshole, how many of those people knew the name of the piece before hand? Not many, if any at all. So quit bitching because the Internet tells you to. And for the tagger, why isn’t he up on walls and signs? Smells like pussy to me” –Juan Campos*
- “I agree with Juan Campos quoting Picasso “every act of creation, starts with an act of destruction.” However, a friend of mine brought to my attention how this “vandalism” could disrupt the Menil’s reputation and barriers to bring in new and diverse artist exhibitions. The incident calls into question the level of security and liability to show touring exhibits.” –Carrie Hendrix
- “BALLS OUT” –Michael LaCour
- “If he was such an artist, where is HIS art? That is like me yanking the plug out of somebody’s guitar mid-show and then saying that makes me a musician. What an ass-clown.” –Geoff Widmier
- “The guy is a Choad” –John Egan
- “Based on the amount of controversy and chit chat generated I would consider the action a success.” –Megan O’Brien
Most people have come to agree that it was wrong, uncalled for, and uncouth of Landeros to try and get away with such an act as ruining a historical piece of art. The Woman in a Red Armchair painting is one of nine Picasso paintings privately owned by the de Menil family, who also owns 14 drawings, one sculpture, and 100 plus prints by Picasso. The de Menil family is awesome enough to collect, display, and share hundreds of pieces of art with the public since the Menil Collection opened in 1987. Every piece of art in that museum is their private property, and under NO circumstances is it acceptable for anyone to deface any private property– regardless of whether it is a famous, historical piece or not. It is a shame that it was attacked in such a disrespectful manner. Seriously, Landeros, WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Grow up.
Crime Stoppers asks anyone with information about additional suspects or co-conspirators to call 713-222-TIPS (8477). A cash reward up to $5,000 is offered for any information called in that leads to any felony suspect arrest or filing of felony charges.
*We at FPH did have one question concerning a comment about the attacker, made by Juan Campos. In response to our asking what everyone’s take on the situation was, Campos responded, “…Smells like pussy to me.” I’m sorry, but…what? We appreciate and respect everyone’s opinion, so, in attempt to better understand the response given by Campos, we did our due diligence to set out and investigate the universal smell of pussy. Our findings were conclusive that all pussy smells different and unique, which only confused us even more. We asked Campos to better explain his comment and he responded, explaining that the tagger was just going for the glory without the hard work. So, thank you, Juan, for clarifying. As always, we value each and every response we receive.