Maximo Caminero was upset over the lack of exposure for local artists at Miami's museums, but he says he didn't know Ai Weiwei's artwork was worth $1 million.
A Florida painter says he smashed an ancient vase modified by dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in a "spontaneous protest" over the lack of local talent on display at the Miami's museums.
"I did it for all the local artists in Miami that have never been shown in museums here," Maximo Caminero told Miami New Times. "They have spent so many millions now on international artists. It's the same political situation over and over again."
Caminero, 51, who was born in the Dominican Republic and creates Caribbean-influenced abstracts, was charged with criminal mischief Sunday after destroying the $1 million artwork at the Pérez Art Museum Miami.
The vase was one of several Colored Vases — ceramic pots created in the Neolithic period, from 5,000 to 3,500 B.C. , that he covered with ordinary house paint. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary museum in Vienna explains:
The dripping and running of the uniform colors of the commercially manufactured paints applied to these hand-made, biscuit-fired Neolithic (5,000–3,000 BC) urns places the traditional form of pottery, with dripping or running glazes, and the expressionless quality of industrially manufactured products into a new relationship of contradiction, coexistence, and accommodation.
Caminero said he wasn't aware of the vanquished vase's monetary value.
"I feel so sorry about it, for sure," he said. "I thought it was a common clay pot like you would find at Home Depot, frankly."
He said he considered the accompanying photographs showing Ai dropping and breaking an ancient Chinese vase "a provocation ... to join him in an act of performance protest."
Caminero has scheduled a news conference Tuesday "to answer all the questions," he told the Associated Press.
Monday, the museum said "evidence suggest that this was a premeditated act."
"As an art museum dedicated to celebrating modern and contemporary artists from within our community and around the world, we have the highest respect for freedom of expression, but this destructive act is vandalism and disrespectful to another artist and his work, to Pérez Art Museum Miami, and to our community," the statement said.
The exhibit, Ai Weiwei: According to What?, runs through March 16.
Ai has been persecuted for openly criticizing the Chinese government over democracy, human rights and corruption. He angered Beijing authorities by helping to document shoddy construction of schools that collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, killing hundreds of children.
Ai was the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium — dubbed the "Bird's Nest" — for the 2008 Olympics.
Three years later, the Chinese government detained him for 81 days without charges for alleged "economic crimes" that were never prosecuted. He then successfully defeated a $2.4 million tax bill authorities attempted to levy.