The Broken Balloon Dog and Artist Etiquette


Jessica Vanderbeck

Always follow the proper etiquette when viewing art.

Jessica Vanderbeck, Reporter

What would you do if your art was accidentally smashed into a million pieces?

This terrifying hypothetical became a reality in late February of this year at the Art Wynwood gallery in Miami. A woman knocked over a Jeff Koons “Balloon Dog” statue by accidentally kicking the glass stand the statue was on during a busy cocktail hour. The tiny kick caused the porcelain statue to shatter onto the ground, attracting a large crowd of people to the scene.

Although the piece was covered by insurance, there are mixed reactions to this situation. Some witnesses say that they saw the woman purposefully poking the piece, while other collectors are looking to buy the pieces, claiming that the story behind them adds value. The statue was worth lots of money, the story went semi-viral- but why should students care?

The story of the shattered Balloon Dog is actually a perfect example of what not to do when interacting with art- you wouldn’t want your art to be ruined, so why would you risk ruining someone else’s art? This is why it’s so important to follow the correct etiquette for whatever art form you’re looking at. For example, some art exhibits might allow you to interact with the art and take photos, and others might ask you to admire the pieces from a distance. “Our galleries here allow photography, but you should always ask for permission to take pictures at other galleries,” says Mrs. Patricia Calderon, visual arts teacher. “Touch with your eyes, not your hands- unless there’s a sign that says you can.”

But it’s not just visual art galleries that have these variations in rules- every art form can have them. At some shows, it’s usually best to wait until a band or orchestra performance is over to applaud. But some performances might allow extra applause during standout moments like solos. Some slam poets may want silence while they perform, while others may welcome you to laugh during a comedic piece.  It can vary a lot from exhibit to exhibit, show to show, so as a good audience member? Be sure you know what you can and can’t do during a performance. Oh, and no heckling. Obviously.