Dutch artist banned from Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam after urine threat

18 March 2015

A Dutch court has upheld the right of Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum of modern art to ban the Dutch artist Rob van Koningsbruggen from entering after he threatened to urinate on works, including those by Marlene Dumas.

Rob van Koningsbruggen this week lost his suit in an Amsterdam court to force the world-famous museum to allow him in. The court ruling was the climax of a two-and-a-half-year feud sparked after Van Koningsbruggen was allegedly left off the invitation list to attend the museum's grand reopening in September 2012 after a nine-year facelift.

A few days before the reopening he wrote an email to the museum, commenting on South African artist Dumas's 2010 portrait "Osama".

"The newly-acquired Osama bin Laden painting is genius. But something's missing. Could you please erect a scaffold in front of it?" he wrote.

"In the last few days my urine has become particularly acidic and I'm planning to improve the painting with a well-directed stream of piss, in the presence of her majesty (then queen Beatrix)," his email said, according to court documents.

"Young foreign video artists will record me pissing against Osama bin Laden, leaving only his beard. After the canvas has dried, I'll sign it and donate it to the museum," he added.

The upset artist also threatened to urinate on works of influential Belgian artist Luc Tuymans.

The emails resulted in a ban from the Stedelijk, which owns and displays several of Van Koningsbruggen's own abstract works.

His lawyers in February sued the Stedelijk, saying his comments were meant as satire, that the museum had misinterpreted his sense of humour as anger and that he should be allowed into the museum.

But, the court ruled on Monday, "the Stedelijk is correct in barring the plaintiff entry."

"He sent emails threatening to urinate on artworks. The museum is correct in not wanting to take the risk of letting him back inside," the judge said.

Museum spokeswoman Raven said that it was never the intention to deny Mr Van Koningsbruggen access forever and the museum had always been ready to discuss the matter.

Photo: Stedelijk Museum facade as seen from the Van Gogh Museum, John Lewis Marshal

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