Vanessa Prager “In the Pink” exhibition / hands

In February 2018, an unidentified man visiting Prager’s exhibition “In the Pink” at New York gallery The Hole placed his hand on at least one of Prager’s paintings and proceeded to wipe colorful streaks of paint on surfaces throughout the gallery, including walls, columns and a bench.

The aftermath was recorded by vlogger James Kalm, who later described the scene: “Wandering through the show initially, I didn’t see anything out of order,” Kalm told Hyperallergic. “Then doing a closing shot I see a gallery attendant cleaning off a bench, and realize someone is doing a Jack the Smearer routine, smushing their hand in the paintings and slathering it around the gallery. I noticed smears on a bench, the walls, and on a column. I did speak with [the gallery’s director] Raymond Bulman and he said he’d spotted the culprit, identified him by his paint-stained hands, and thrown him out of the gallery.”

Given the lush, textured surfaces of Prager’s work, it wasn’t immediately clear which painting(s) had been involved.  As Kalm added, “I’ve since heard that other people have unintentionally backed into the paintings, while taking selfies and other meshugas.”

Christopher Schreck