Notes Of An Artistic Mad Man: Art & Crime

Above: Picasso vandal tote bag from Art Basel Miami by Brandon Dunlap.

Photo credit: Brandon Dunlap ; @brandunlap

…Crime and Art…not exactly bosom buddies but they’ve known each other long enough to enjoy a glass of Chianti and talk shop once in awhile.  Needless to say crime has a lot to talk about these days since it has inundated much of modern society’s most cherished institutions, including politics, finance, entertainment, sports, the corporate boardroom and bedroom, high tech, low tech, not to mention judicial malfeasance and police provocation, communications skullduggery and religious treasons, (stop me if you can), education transgressions, rampant racism, personal offenses, hidden agendas and pedophile atrocities.  And then there’s art crimes; not as creative as they should be, highlighted by the graffito taggers rocking their spray paint, grease and chalk illegally in urban sprawl or the forever depressing creepy essence of law suits targeting various artists appropriation of images that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that stealing art is art.   And then there’s the wannabe artist, who is tagging National Parks with cute paintings on ancient rocks.  It’s really quite embarrassing and boring at the same time.  All I can do is yell at the top of my lungs: Long Live Banksy

…Another pathetic art crime was committed by an artist, James Meyer, who was convicted of grand larceny of millions of dollars of art created by Jasper Johns.  Meyer, better known as Jasper Johns‘ studio assistant and not an artist, admitted to a federal judge that he stole 22 paintings from the Jasper Johns’ Connecticut studio and sold them for a pretty penny.   He bought a vacation home, a yacht, not to mention cars and everything and anything that big time art thievery money can buy.  Meyer sold Jasper’s paintings under the guise that they were gifts from the his boss so he wanted to keep the sales on the down low but who knew how low James Meyer would go…

…And of course there are the usual run-of-the-mill art crimes like stealing, forging and defacing that are investigated by the FBI’s rapid deployment Art Crime Team created in 2004 surviving the acronym, ASS, short for, Art Swat Squad.  I think there is a bad television show in there somewhere. The team is composed of special agents, each responsible for addressing art and cultural property crimes in assigned geographic regions. The Art Crime Team is coordinated through the FBI’s Art Theft Program, located at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Since its inception, they have recovered more than 2,650 items valued at over $150 million.  But not one of those art crimes inspire the Hollywood glitz of The Thomas Crown Affair or the spectacle of Picasso being suspected of stealing the Mona Lisa or as outrageous as Tony Shafrazi’s defacing of Guernica by Picasso with the infamous scrawled epitaph: KILL ALL LIES.  A credo all art crimes should measure themselves by…

-C.C. Long (Artistic Mad Man)

C.C. Long: A professional artist and writer for over 20 years. Has been published both in England and the United States. Desire, The Driftwood Review, Flux, Chin, Exit Art, WhiteHot Magazine, Art Nouveau Magazine, The Village Voice, The Thompkins Park Literary Review and the Boston Literary Magazine are just a few of the magazines and literary reviews that has published his works. 
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