Gallery guerrilla | Art exhibition worker sacked after showcasing own painting alongside famous artists

Art exhibition worker sacked after showcasing own painting alongside famous artists

An employee at an art gallery in Germany has been sacked for hanging up their own artwork alongside the likes of iconic artist Andy Warhol.

Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne said it fired a member of staff after realising the man hung up his own work as part of one of the art gallery’s exhibitions, in a bid to achieve his own artistic breakthrough.

The unnamed 51-year-old employee was a part of the institution’s technical services team and is a self-proclaimed artist.

Due to his role, the employee had access to the gallery’s exhibition rooms outside of opening hours, giving him the opportunity to smuggle and hang up his work without anyone noticing.

A spokesperson from the gallery said the employee’s 60cm by 120cm painting wasn’t on display for very long when supervisors noticed what had happened.

“All I can say is that we did not receive any positive feedback on the addition from visitors to the gallery,” the gallery spokesperson said. Whilst the gallery has purposefully withheld from giving information about the painting to avoid “encouraging copycat pranksters”.

In response, the aspiring artist was fired and banned from the gallery, which is one of the largest modern art galleries in Europe, hosting over 20,000 works from the likes of Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Salvador Dalí.

Although the employee’s actions aren’t technically a criminal offence, local media has reported that police are investigating a complaint of ‘willful damage to property’ as the gallery says the worker drilled two holes into the wall to hang up his painting.

Individualisation vs cohesion

This news highlights an interesting theme around how an employee’s own personal ambitions align with, and sometimes conflicts with, the wider goals and ambitions of the organisation they work for.

Especially as employee personalisation has gained prominence in recent years following the pandemic, individuality in the workplace has thrived. However, it isn’t always clear how this individuality fits into the cohesiveness of an organisation, and unity amongst workers towards a common goal.

James Gordanifar, Head of Talent Acquisition at WTW, told HR Grapevine that there can be some conflicting notions when firms encourage both individualism and collaboration.

He said: “If employees are too focused on what their organisation can do for them as opposed to what they can do for the collective, this can have really detrimental effects.

“I don’t think it’s something that’s all bad, but I feel there’s some tension and juxtaposition in wanting collaboration and encouraging individualism.”



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