Last Sunday I discovered that Richard Serra's Reading Cones in Grant Park was vandalized recently.
As you can see from the pictures the damage was fortunately inflicted with chalk, thus last night's rain handily removed most of the chalk. However as you can tell, outlines remain and the patina is not uniform (though it never really was uniform due to past damage).
No matter. Richard Serra's work will far outlast any vandalism it is the victim of. Visiting the artwork today was kind of funny, Serra's is this strong, confident artwork that seems to have always been there, like a sarsen at Stonehenge. It seems like it always will be there.
The scrawls around it seem nervous, aware of their own ephemeral nature and aware of their marginal status as art, especially as they are literally in the shadow of something that is no doubt Art. I was reminded of what happened not so long ago at the Modern Wing, mere steps away form the Serra, where graffiti similarly seemed to protest its outsider status.
I'll be the first to mention that I'm a strong supporter of graffiti art and street art, but part of that support involves a recognition that there is vandalism that usually lies side-by-side with art. I've never found it hard to tell the difference between the two, so I always pointedly use the word vandalism to contrast with graffiti art.
But I think a crucial point is approaching for graffiti artists and street artists, and that's the allegory of the vandalized Serra or the graffiti'd Modern Wing. This community, anarchistic and unorganized as it is, needs to reach a consensus about what they want and where they want to go, either art or vandalism.