The Man Who Slashed the ‘Russian Mona Lisa’ Says Nationalist Ideology Fueled His Attack

artnet News | Henri Neuendorf

The man who attacked one of Russia’s most famous paintings with a metal pole has admitted in court that he was motivated by nationalist ideology, not drunkenness. On Tuesday, 37-year-old Igor Podporin was charged with the destruction or damage to objects of historical and cultural value in a hearing at Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District Court. Podporin admitted to striking Ilya Repin’s 1885 painting Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan, which depicts the 16th-century ruler holding his dying son, at Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery. Podporin initially claimed he carried out the attack because he felt “overwhelmed” after drinking vodka at the museum cafe. But in a court appearance on Tuesday, the man reversed himself: He denied drinking vodka and said that he vandalized the painting because he objected to how it depicted the Russia tsar, according to Reuters.

The artwork, which was slashed in three places and suffered damage to the frame, was described by museum curators as Russia’s Mona Lisa. According to historical accounts, Ivan the Terrible killed his son in 1581 by hitting him over the head with a staff amid a heated argument. Today, the incident is disputed by some historians and Russian nationalists, who believe the West has exaggerated the ruler’s conduct to negatively portray the country. Last year, President Vladimir Putin reportedly expressed doubt over the tsar’s guilt…read more

Image: YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images