Artist Banned From Stedelijk Museum After Threatening to Piss on Dumas, Tuymans Paintings

Rob van Koningsbruggen Photo: Bert Nienhuis

Dutch artist Rob van Koningsbruggen was incensed when he failed to receive an invitation to the 2012 reopening ceremony of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, which holds a number of his abstract paintings in its permanent collection. What did he do in response to the snub? Oh, just the same thing you probably do when you’re not invited to a party: he threatened to pee on a few important artworks.

A few days before the reopening, van Koningsbruggen penned an email to the museum, specifically citing work by Marlene Dumas and Luc Tuymans as targets.

“The newly-acquired Osama bin Laden painting [by Dumas] is genius. But something’s missing,” he wrote. “In the last few days my urine has become particularly acidic and I’m planning to improve the painting with a well-directed stream of piss, in the presence of her majesty.”

“Young foreign video artists will record me pissing against Osama bin Laden, leaving only his beard. After the canvas has dried, I’ll sign it and donate it to the museum,” he continued.

Not surprisingly, the museum wasn’t excited about that particular acquisition, and banned him from the institution for life.

van Koningsbruggen then sued the Stedelijk, claiming the email was meant satirically and he should be allowed back in the museum.

A Dutch court ruled on Monday that in fact the museum was well within their rights to ban him. “He sent emails threatening to urinate on artworks. The museum is correct in not wanting to take the risk of letting him back inside,” the judge said.

The Washington Post reports that the museum attempted to extend an olive branch to van Koningsbruggen earlier this year, offering to allow him to visit on a provisional basis. He responded by telling them that he would bring notorious Dutch criminal Willem Holleeder with him, and that Holleeder planned to “take a whiz against the statue of Dan Flavin.”

Despite the ruling in their favor, Stedelijk spokeswoman Marie-Jose Raven remains optimistic that the museum will eventually mend ties with the artist (that is, if he ever stops threatening to relieve himself on things).

“It was never the intention to deny Mr. van Koningsbruggen access forever. But there must be sufficient trust to ensure the collection is safe before he is let in again,” she stated.

This isn’t the first time the Stedelijk Museum has been involved in a head-scratcher of a news story. Last September, actor and apparent James Franco disciple Shia LaBeouf staged a “metamarathon” around the perimeter of the institution (see Shia LaBeouf Will Jog Around the Stedelijk Museum for Art).


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