A few weeks ago, Andrew Shannon was sentenced to five years in prison for punching a Claude Monet painting entitled Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sailboat (1874)
The attack, which took place at Dublin’s National Gallery in June 2012 and made waves in the international media, begged two questions. First: what lies behind the urge to destroy a painting by Monet, who crafted such precious landscapes, so uncontroversial in their themes and techniques by today’s standards?
The second question involves more practical concerns: is it really that easy to destroy a masterpiece hanging in a well-regarded institution?
While the answer to the first question is up for debate, the answer to the second is, sadly, yes. Because Shannon is not the only Monet-puncher to have struck in recent years.
In October 2007, a group of vandals broke into the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and punched a hole in Monet’s Le Pont d’Argenteuil (1874). A group of four or five seemingly inebriated hooligans were recorded entering the museum by surveillance cameras.
As it was early in the morning and the museum was still closed, an alarm went off, prompting the group to flee. Despite the rush, however, they found the time to punch the Monet, making a four-inch tear in it. No arrest was made in relation to the attack, so presumably the vandals are still at large.
In light of this disturbing trend, I’d suggest all Monet-punching-inclined individuals the chance to let off steam without the terrible consequences=go punch a monet online and then go see a shrink.