Art Market

An art critic accidentally smashed a $20,000 sculpture at the Zona Maco fair.

Alina Cohen
Feb 10, 2020 5:08PM, via Associated Press
Gabriel Rico
Nimble and sinister tricks (To be preserved with out scandal and corruption) I, 2018
Galería OMR

An explosion of glass and a provocative critic enlivened the halls of Mexico City art fair Zona Maco on Saturday. Nimble and sinister tricks (To be preserved with out scandal and corruption) I(2018), a $20,000 sculpture by artist Gabriel Rico, shattered after writer and art historian Avelina Lésper placed a soda can nearby.

While it’s unclear how or why the work broke, the presenting gallery, Mexico City–based Galería OMR, faulted the writer and art historian for coming too close to the fragile piece. Rico’s construction featured a soccer ball, rock, feather, and twig, among other objects, suspended in a thin sheet of glass, propped up vertically by a brass base.

Instead of simply apologizing, Lésper developed a mystical interpretation of the incident. She’d been openly criticizing Rico’s sculpture just before it broke. “It was like the work heard my comment and felt what I thought of it,” Lésper told Milenio, a Mexican media group where she regularly publishes. The critic—who once published a book called El Fraude del Arte Contemporaneo (The Fraud of Contemporary Art, 2015)—suggested that the gallery preserve the shards. After all, Marcel Duchamp stated that his own The Large Glass (1915–23) was only finished after it was broken in transit and glued back together.

The gallery rejected Lésper’s inventive proposals, chastising her for an “enormous lack of professionalism and respect.” The critic then offered to help repair the piece. The gallery said it will reach out to Rico before determining the artwork’s fate.

Museo Soumaya director Alfonso Miranda took to Twitter to lament the artwork’s destruction, while others praised Lésper. “We should thank Avelina Lesper who is saving us from so much fake shit that they feed to us as ‘Art,’” wrote Twitter user SolArriagaV. “Avelina I am your fan.”

Further Reading: Art Gets Damaged All the Time. Here’s How It Gets Back to the Market

Alina Cohen