AVIGNON, France (AFP) – French prosecutors Tuesday requested a hefty fine and a civics course against a woman who planted a lipstick-red kiss on the pure white canvas of a two-million-euro artwork by US artist Cy Twombly.
The trial comes days after a drunken gang broke into the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and punched a hole in a painting by the French Impressionist Claude Monet, sparking a debate about security in French museums.
Cambodian-born artist Rindy Sam, 30, was arrested in July after reaching out to smack a crimson kiss on the Twombly painting during a show dedicated to the US painter in the southern French city of Avignon.
“I just gave it a kiss,” the young woman told the court. “It was an act of love, when I kissed it, I wasn’t thinking. I thought the artist would understand.”
Rindy issued a statement distancing herself from the vandals who damaged the Monet work: “On the one hand you have a revoltingly bestial act of cruelty, on the other a pure, intense act of love. Rindy’s gesture was an artistic act provoked by the power of art.”
But the prosecution demanded a 4,500-euro (6,300-dollar) fine and a civic education course as punishment for what it called a form of “cannibalism”, though it said the young woman “clearly does not realise what she has done.”
Agnes Tricoire, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the kiss was “as aggressive as a punch,” causing damage that was just as hard to restore.
“I do not share the same vision of love. For me love requires the consent of both sides,” she said.
“I expect compensation for my clients, the artist Cy Twombly whose work has been altered, the Lambert collection whose exhibition was ruined by this business and Mr Lambert, owner of the work vandalised by Miss Rindy Sam.”
The untitled work three metres by two (roughly nine feet by six), is valued at two million euros (2.8 million dollars).
A verdict is due in the coming weeks.