The woman who attempted to deface a $30 million painting by the American abstract expressionist artist Clyfford Still in a Denver museum has been sentenced to two years of probation. The woman approached the picture and punched it scratched it and rubbed her buttocks against it. She will now have to undergo mental health treatment, the prosecutors have stated.
The 36-year-old woman was arrested in January 2012 for disorder in a public place and charged with criminal damage. The onslaught began with her leaning on the work at the recently-opened Clyfford Still Museum, and proceeding to punch it, pull her pants down, and then urinate on herself. The extent of the damage was reparable.
The North Dakota-born Still was considered one of the most influential post-World War Two American abstract expressionist artists, but he was not as famous as contemporaries such as Jackson Pollock. Still died in 1980, and Denver officials worked for decades with his widow, Patricia, to secure a single-artist museum featuring his works. When she died in 2005, she bequeathed her husband’s collection to the city.
Clyfford Still shot to international fame as a leading figure of the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1940s and early 1950s. He mixed with the likes of Philip Guston, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, but quickly retired from the art world. Nevertheless, he was to receive the Award of Merit for Painting in 1972 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he became a member in 1978, and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 1975. Last spring Four of his works were sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $114 million.