|American painter faces lawsuit for destroying Ai Weiwei vase, promises to explain vandalism
An American artist in South Florida is facing a criminal charge after police say he smashed a US$1 million vase by Ai Weiwei at Miami's new art museum to protest what he called its favoritism for international art, AP reports.
Maximo Caminero, 51, was charged with criminal mischief after Sunday's incident at the Perez Art Museum Miami. According to a Miami Police Department arrest affidavit, a security guard told officers that Caminero picked up a colored vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai. When told to put it down, the security guard said, Caminero smashed it on the floor.
Caminero told officers he broke the vase to protest the museum's lack of local artist displays and because “the museum only displayed international artists' art,'' according to the affidavit.
Caminero, a painter who lives in Miami, declined comment when reached by telephone Monday. He said he will have an afternoon news conference Tuesday.
“I'm going to answer all the questions,'' he said.
The police affidavit lists the value of the vase as US$1 million, quoting the museum's security officials. Criminal mischief can be a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison when the property damaged is worth more than US$1,000.
“As an art museum dedicated to celebrating modern and contemporary artists from within our community and around the world, we have the highest respect for freedom of expression,'' the museum said in a statement late Monday. “But this destructive act is vandalism and disrespectful to another artist and his work, to Prez Art Museum Miami, and to our community.''
According to the museum website, the vase is one of more than a dozen that are part of a floor installation. Each vase is partially painted in bright colors.
Behind the installation are a series of three black-and-white photos showing Ai holding a vase and then letting it drop to the ground.
The “Ai Weiwei: According to What?'' exhibit runs through March 16.