Picasso’s £20 Million Painting Damaged at Tate Modern

2020 has barely begun and already we hear news of a prized artwork being vandalised in London. A 20-year-old man was charged with criminal damage after a £20 Million painting by famed Spanish painter Pablo Picasso has been allegedly ripped at the Tate Modern art gallery. The vandal was reportedly caught red-handed and his motives remained unclear.

Picasso's Bust of a Woman has been vandalised

Dora Maar (right) was Pablo Picasso's (left) lover and muse

The attacked artwork, Bust of a Woman, measuring at 81 x 65cm, depicts Dora Maar who was the lover and muse of the painting's author Pablo Picasso. Maar was a highly accomplished French photographer and Surrealist artist in her own right, well-established before her acquaintance with Picasso. She was intelligent and creative with a sophisticated personality - a source of endless inspiration for Picasso as evidenced by his numerous paintings of her.

The fact that the artwork was painted during the final months of the Nazi occupation of Paris added another layer of meaning to it. Picasso finished the painting on May 5th in 1944, roughly a month before Allied troops' landings on the beaches of Normandy. The operation successfully liberated France from Nazi Germany's control in August that year. Art experts theorized that the higher colouring of this artwork possibly signifies the prospect of liberation and the downfall of Nazism.

The masterpiece was reportedly ripped on December 28th last year at Tate Modern art gallery and we are still waiting to hear for further updates regarding the extent of the damage. It has been on long term loan from a private collection since 2011 according to the gallery's website.

This is not the first time that a painting has been attacked at Tate Modern art gallery

The 20-year-old suspect Shakeel Massey, from north London, was said to have been "swiftly apprehended" according to a spokesperson for the gallery. He has reportedly denied the charge and his pre-trial hearing is now set on January 30th at the Inner London Crown Court.

This is not the first time that a painting has been attacked at Tate Modern art gallery. Back in 2012 a man strolled in and scrawled graffiti on Mark Rothko's abstract art piece, Black On Maroon, before making for a quick exit.

The vandal turned out to be a Polish-born artist known as Vladimir Umanets, who was 26 years old when he commited the highly controversial act. He argued that it was not an act of destruction but rather an expression of 'Yellowism', an art movement that he has founded. He was found guilty of criminal damage to property and sentenced to 2 years in prison. It took the gallery more than a year to restore the £9 Million painting. 

Vladimir Umanets was sentenced to 2 years in prison

Graffiti scrawled in the corner of Mark Rothko's painting

Black On Maroon was back on display following an 18-month restoration project