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Miami museum visitor charged with breaking $1 mln Ai WeiWei vase

Source: Reuters - Mon, 17 Feb 2014 21:39 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Miami police have arrested a man who they say smashed a $1 million vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei to protest that the city's newly opened museum is only displaying international art.

Dominican-born Maximo Caminero, 51, was arrested and charged on Sunday with criminal mischief after picking up one of the 16 brightly painted vases at the Perez Art Museum Miami and throwing it to the ground when confronted by security, according to a police report.

He told police he broke the vase to protest that the museum only displayed art by international artists, according to the police report.

Caminero, reached by telephone, told Reuters he is a painter who lives in Miami. He said he planned to host a news conference on Tuesday to explain his actions and declined to comment further.

The artist Ai has long attracted international attention for criticizing China's government policies on democracy, free speech and human rights.

He disappeared abruptly in mid-2011 and was held without charges for nearly three months for alleged economic crimes.

The piece, titled "Colored Vases," is part of Ai's exhibit "According to What," which opened along with the museum in late 2013.

Supporters of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed waterfront museum say it signifies an important shift in Miami's cultural landscape as the city looks in part to shed its sun-and-fun image.

The work's 16 vases, each dipped in bright paint by Ai, are about 2,000 years old, dating back to China's Han Dynasty.

The artist has long used ancient vases and artifacts in his work, drawing criticism that painting them defaces the original work.

Behind the installation in Miami is a backdrop of three photos showing him dropping a Han Dynasty urn.

He also has painted the Coca-Cola logo onto several ancient vases. (Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and G Crosse)

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