Kazimir Malevich “Suprematism (White Cross)” (1927) / spray paint
On January 4 1997, this work was damaged while on view at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Alexander Brener, a Russian performance artist, smuggled a canister of green spray paint into the gallery and used it to paint a large dollar sign onto the canvas. Brener surrendered on site, claiming his action had been a performance protesting “corruption and commercialism in the art world.” He later clarified that his act had not been one of violence: “What I did WAS NOT against the painting. I view my act as a dialogue with Malewitz [sic].”
The work was permanently damaged. Brener was eventually convicted and served six months in a Dutch prison.