The Secret History of Artists Who Use Lawbreaking as Their Medium

Eva and Franco Mattes’s “Stolen Pieces” series, objects taken from works by (clockwise from top left): Alberto Burri, Vasily Kandinsky, Jeff Koons, Richard Long, Gilbert & George, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamp, and César.


Artists have long gotten away with murder, sometimes literally. After Benvenuto Cellini killed his rival, the goldsmith Pompeo de Capitaneis, in 1534, Pope Paul III—a Cellini fan—reportedly pardoned the Florentine artist, declaring that men like him “ought not to be bound by law.” In 1660 the Dutch painter Jacob van Loo stabbed a wine merchant to death during a brawl in Amsterdam, and then fled to Paris. But, as the art historians Rudolf and Margot Wittkower have noted in their vigorously researched 1963 treatise on the behavior of artists, Born Under Saturn, van Loo had no problem being elected to the Royal Academy there just two years later. His reputation as an artist was what mattered.

Artists have not only indulged in criminal behavior and then been forgiven for it, by philosophers and historians, princes and popes, they have also sometimes openly advertised it. “I do not understand laws,” Arthur Rimbaud wrote in 1873, summing up the attitude of the renegade artist. “I have no moral sense. I am a brute.”

Those lines, as well as Pope Paul’s (which Cellini shares in his autobiography), appear in Mike Kelley’s 1988 installation Pay for Your Pleasure, a long hallway lined with painted portraits of dead white men (intellectuals, artists, and the like) paired with choice quotations from them celebrating destruction, violence, and lawbreaking. It is, viewed from one angle, an indictment of the archetype of the artist as a macho man unbound by legal codes.

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The Death Archives : Mayhem 1984-1994

by Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud

Norwegian Black Metal is one of the most distinct and controversial subcultures in the music world, its popularity spanning globally from China to Mexico. The book is not only a documentation of a band – it is also a story about Norway, and a unique Norwegian subculture where a deep fascination for authentic Nordic culture and nature is deeply immersed.

“We decided to rent a post office box. This meant we were serious. We knew we required a rubber stamp with our name and address and carefully studied typefaces until we found the right one.

The old Langhus, Norway station was remodelled into a post office. It was one kilometer from home in Vevelstad and four hundred meters from our rehearsal space at the time. They sold train tickets and offered post office boxes and a mailing department in a separate room. We thought that was cool and rented no. 75. The back cover of Deathcrush LP was stamped: ‘Mayhem, Box 75, 1405 Langhus.’ Pure Fucking Armageddon LP was also stamped. After the first real article about us was published in Slayer magazine the editor wrote us: ‘Dear Mayhem, Expect mail!,’ and letters flooded in from all over the world.

We’d tagged that station with ‘Mayhem’ by the tracks so everyone knew they were entering Mayhem country! The locals painted over it and we tagged it again. They just left it after that.”

– Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud

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Kaliarnta – The glossary of the homosexuals & transvestites of 60’s Greece.

By Elias Petropoulos

Kaliarnta is a glossary of the idiom used between homosexuals and transvestites during the 60’s in Greece, which is thought to be the first gay slang dictionary written in any language.

“I love punks, thugs, prostitutes, rebetes and queers because they are fighting against all kinds of power and I love them because they can survive against the police, against the law, against the awful ethics of the middle class, against their passionate selves.”

– Excerpt from the introduction of the book

… there (in jail) I met punks, prostitutes, thugs and fags and for the first time I heard the “kaliarnta”, the secret language of the homosexuals. In 1968, after my release from jail, I desided to work on the “kaliarnta”. The first dictionary in the world for the slang of fags.

– Excerpt from the video

Buy the book here

Read the pdf here

More about him

Dimitris Taxis – Portraits old one, roll-up, 2009. #dimitristaxis, #mural, #rollup

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URSOMORTO – Fabricio Brambatti

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O melhor banheiro é sempre o da nossa casa. Ocupação – São Paulo

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Fabricio Brambatti Photographer and movie director based in São Paulo – Brasil

Member of – Director at

Dimitris Ntokos

*2013* Photo @dimbouras #scarab #mural #dimitrisntokos

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Elias Petropoulos: An Underground World – Documentary

Watch the film with english subtitles here

Elias Petropoulos, who died in 2003, was the first Greek folklore researcher, author, and historian to document underground cultures and figures shunned by official history. A restless, inquisitive spirit, he was the enemy of academicism and the establishment.

Kalliopi Legaki’s Elias Petropoulos: An Underground World meets the author at his study in Paris, where he spent his last thirty years in self-exile. Taking the shape of a final interview, it was filmed only months before Petropoulos died of cancer. By then, he was disillusioned with Greece’s politics, tired of the prosecutions and prison terms. An active member of the Greek resistance to Nazi occupation and later an outspoken critic of repression and censorship, he had fled the junta for Paris in 1974.

Petropoulos takes us into unfamiliar realms of tradition and “Greekness” and acquaints us with all the persecuted and despised characters that fill his books. Rembetika songs, musicians, bums, spivs, prostitutes, homosexuals, convicts—all those he described as an “underground world”—meet before the camera as they once met in his writing.

Eminent artists and intellectuals—“the world above ground”—who had met and befriended him give their own account of the man. They admire his unique ability to converse with these different, hidden worlds.

The camera reveals a man who never lost the passion for his work, gleaning information for his books and subverting established views and values. Until the end, Elias Petropoulos was an unrepentant, anarchic idealist and one of the last romantics of our times.

Kalliopi Legaki, director and Maria Gentekou, producer of Elias Petroupoulos: An Underground World

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Iakovos Volkov

#installation #clothes #found #athens #abandoned #circle #iakovosvolkov

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From his blog

Iakovos Volkov (NAR) was born in Novorossiysk, Russia in 1982 and in 1991 moved to Greece. Currently lives and works in Athens. Since he was a child, streets have been the ultimate place for inspiration and personal expression. In recent years, his desperate need for unconstrained creativity and lack of money led him to collect materials that most people usually throw away and been neglected next to garbage bins, in abandoned buildings and ex industrial zones. Iakovos makes surprising and unexpected constructions and in situ installations with found objects such as clothes, toys, shoes, fabric etc. Not only outdoor but also indoor, he is experimenting with materials such as fuel oil, nails, threads, cans, making constructions, engraves on spray‐cans, burns carpets forming shapes from shadows and do anything else that inspires him. He spends all of his time in what he does, just creating.