Arrests Made in Vandalization of Richard Serra Sculpture in Qatar

Serra's "East-West/West-East" is a massive and isolated work

Richard Serra's "East-West/West-East."
Qatar Museums

Situated 40 miles outside of Doha, Richard Serra’s sculpture East-West/West-East looms over the desert landscape, a work that was originally commissioned by Qatar’s Sheikha al-Mayassa al-Thani. Around its opening in 2014, Hal Foster wrote in Artforum, “After the perceptual bombardment of Doha, with its architecture dominated by idiosyncratic shapes and kitschy facades, the sensuous experience prompted by the rigorous abstraction of the sculpture is at once bracing and sensitizing.”

At the very end of 2020, the sculpture was vandalized by unknown parties. Now, a new report at ARTnews reveals that arrests have been made in connection with those actions.

The Qatar Museums manages the sculpture, and recently posted an update on the case on Instagram. The museums noted that police had arrested 6 in conjunction with vandalism over the last 2 months.

“Over the last 2 months, security have patrolled the area and are reporting incidents to the police,” the institution wrote. “Vandalism of all kinds is a crime punishable by law, and Qatar Museums emphasises our collective social responsibility to preserve public art.”

As ARTnews notes in their report on the vandalism, this isn’t the first such incident to take place. Qatar Museums also reported that the sculpture had been damaged in 2020. And while the scale of Serra’s sculpture might make this vandalism particularly notable, attacks on pieces of art are, sadly, nothing new.

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