SOMEONE PUT EYEGLASSES ON A MUSEUM FLOOR, PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS ART



It seems like something out of a movie. In fact, if there isn’t a scene in some Mr. Bean joint in which people mistake something for art, I’ll eat my hat.

A couple of teenagers at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art decided to place a pair of eyeglasses on the floor in one of the rooms just to see what would happen. Tentative visitors quickly treated the unassuming, er, spectacle, with the requisite respect owed to any duly accredited piece of conceptual or minimalist art.



On Twitter, the pranksters go by @TJCruda and @k_vinnn. After just a few minutes, a crowd of onlookers had gathered to investigate the unlabeled “artwork.” Seventeen-year-old T.J. Khayatan (@TJCruda) documented the public’s response on Twitter.

Conceptual art and minimalism are prone to this sort of thing. In 2001, a Damien Hirst installation consisting of a collection of beer bottles, coffee cups, and overflowing ashtrays was mistakenly tossed in the garbage by a janitor. Three years later at the Tate Britain, a Gustav Metzger artwork consisting of a bag of paper and cardboard was similarly thrown out, and in southern Italy in 2014, parts of a piece by Sala Murat were mistakenly discarded.



Just a few months ago, last autumn, an unruly installation by Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari at the Museion Bozen-Bolzano in Italy so resembled the aftermath of a riotous party—it consisted mainly of cigarette butts, empty bottles of champagne, and party streamers—that a cleaner put quite a bit of labor into tidying it up, prompting a memorable screed in the Spectator (U.K.) blog with the title “Hurrah for the cleaner who accidentally threw away a modern art exhibit.”

Before he started the band Pavement, Stephen Malkmus worked at the Whitney Museum in New York City as a guard—while he was there the museum displayed a work by the minimalist artist Richard Tuttle called “Ten Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself” that consisted of a few pieces of string placed on the floor. Malkmus has credited the piece as a contributing factor in deciding to start Pavement.








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