According to the Denver Post, on Thursday, December 29th 2011 a woman, Carmen Tisch, at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado leaned against, punched, and slid along a Clyfford Still painting valued at $30,000,000.00. At some point her pants came down and she urinated, however, the District Attorney claims that no urine got on the painting. Damages are estimated at $10,000.
I find these attacks incredible. I want to attribute them to the Sterndhal Syndrome in which a person is so moved by the beauty of a piece of art that they become faint or ill, hallucinate, or engage in strange behaviors like punching a painting and urinating. Did she know what she was doing? Was she so filled with love or hate that she had to take her pants down and flail her arms like some berserker filled with bloodlust, temporarily blind and moving without thought?
I love the idea that a person can lose control of their mind and body when confronted with works of art. It speaks to the powerful spirituality inherent in works of creativity. It means that the presence of God can be felt reflecting from a piece like the heat from a piece of metal pulled from a fire. It means that critical and intellectual discussions about art are secondary and border on being superfluous next to the sheer magic of beauty.