A Moment Outside


  • Grayson Earle CUNY




soviet art, vandalism, brener, malevich


In the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam in 1997, Alexander Brener defaced one of the art world's greatest treasuers. The target was Kazimir Malevich's Supremetism which in great part marked the birth of the Russian Avant-garde. Immediately after being apprehended by security guards, he loudly proclaimed that what he had done was performance art and a dialogue with Malevich about corruption in the commercial art world. Unlike Tony Shafrazi, Brener was not opportunistic about his vandalism and remains an elusive figure in the Russian art scene—managing to pen his manifesto while imprisoned for modifying Malevich's masterpiece valued at $7.5 million. What most critics overlook are the complexities of the context within which Brener and Malevich are embedded. The trajectory of a former Soviet Peoples' art object to proprietary traded commodity leaves much to be explored. This paper identifies and explores three concepts central to developing a nuanced understanding of Brener's work as art: The legal response to art vandalism; a qualitative comparison between Brener and Malevich; And Brener's situation within contemporary art context with an emphasis on post-Soviet culture and the international political economy.


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