Saturday, January 07, 2006

Conceptual Artist as Vandal: Walk Tall and Carry a Little Hammer (or Ax)

By ALAN RIDING @ New York Times
PARIS, Jan. 6 - The Dada movement made its name in the early 20th century by trying to destroy the conventional notion of art. Taking literal inspiration from their exploits this week, a latter-day neo-Dadaist took a small hammer to Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain," the factory-made urinal that is considered the cornerstone of Conceptual Art.

The assailant, a French performance artist named Pierre Pinoncelli, was immediately arrested after his act of vandalism, which took place on Wednesday, during the final days of the "Dada" exhibition at the Pompidou Center. The porcelain urinal was slightly chipped in the attack and was withdrawn to be restored. (The exhibition runs through Monday.)

Mr. Pinoncelli, 77, who urinated into the same urinal and struck it with a hammer in a show in Nîmes in 1993, has a long record of organizing bizarre happenings. Police officials said he again called his action a work of art, a tribute to Duchamp and other Dada artists.

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