Little-known Miami painter Maximo Caminero “has accidentally punched a massive hole in the logic of contemporary art,” said Jonathan Jones in The Guardian (U.K.). When the 51-year-old activist walked into a gallery at the new Pérez Art Museum Miami on Feb. 16 and deliberately smashed a vase he plucked from an installation by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, he didn’t just win himself an overnight in jail. Ai, after all, is world-famous for destroying art himself. A large photo triptych behind the installation shows Ai dropping and shattering a 2,000-year-old Han Dynasty vase. The vessel that Caminero broke is believed to have been another Han artifact that Ai had defaced by painting it over. But Ai’s defaced vase was worth as much as $1 million because Ai defaced it, while Caminero’s act is being treated by law enforcement as simple vandalism.
“It seems pretty clear that the issue here is ownership,” said Jillian Steinhauer in Hyperallergic.com. Ai owned each of the vases he destroyed, and has chided Caminero for crossing that line. “The irony of it all is too delicious,” said Igor Toronyi-Lalic in The Spectator (U.K.) “An art form that has for 100 years demanded that practitioners shaft society’s norms is, in turn, having its norms shafted,” and the gatekeepers are horrified. Caminero quickly apologized, without backing off his initial claim that he’d shattered the vase to protest the museum’s relative failure to support local artists. Let’s hope Ai decides to sue, said Robert Everett-Green in the Toronto Globe and Mail. “The result would certainly be one of the most entertaining trials of our time—with the artists and their expert supporters arguing about why one kind of art destruction differs, or does not, from another that looks almost exactly the same.”