Ai Weiwei's 'Colored Vases' are shown at the Perez Art
Museum in Miami, Florida. REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson
Miami police have arrested a local artist who they say
destroyed a $US1 million vase by Chinese dissident artist Ai
Weiwei to protest that the city's newly opened museum is only
displaying international art.
Dominican-born Maximo Caminero, 51, was arrested and charged
with criminal mischief after picking up one of 16 brightly
painted vases at the Perez Art Museum Miami and throwing it
to the ground when confronted by security, according to a
He told police he broke the vase to protest that the museum
"only displayed international artists," according to the
Caminero, reached by telephone, told Reuters he is a painter
and lives in Miami. He said he planned to host a news
conference on Tuesday (local time) to explain his actions and
declined to comment further.
He told the Miami New Times he had no idea the vase was so
valuable, and said he was a fan of Ai.
"I didn't know that it was that amount," he told the paper's
online edition, saying he thought it was "a common clay pot
like you would find at Home Depot, frankly."
The 16 vases, each dipped in bright paint by Ai, are about
2,000 years old, dating back to China's Han Dynasty. The
artist has long used ancient vases and artifacts in his work,
drawing criticism that painting them defaces the original
Behind the installation in Miami is a backdrop of three
photos showing him dropping a Han Dynasty urn.
He also has painted the Coca-Cola logo onto several ancient
Caminero said his action was a spontaneous protest, in part
inspired by the Chinese artist. "I was at PAMM and saw Ai
Weiwei's photos behind the vases where he drops an ancient
Chinese vase and breaks it. And I saw it as a provocation by
Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest," he told
the New Times.
Ai has long attracted international attention for criticizing
China's government policies on democracy, free speech and
He disappeared abruptly in mid-2011 and was held without
charges for nearly three months for alleged economic crimes.
The piece, titled "Colored Vases," is part of Ai's exhibit
"According to What," which opened along with the museum in
The Herzog & de Meuron-designed waterfront museum opened
in December, marking an important shift in Miami's cultural
landscape as the city looks in part to shed its sun-and-fun