While reading kottke.org a few moments ago, I came across his post on stealing gallery space. It turns out an artist named Banksy installed his own artwork at MoMA and other major museums in New York. It's certainly an amazing story and better art than some of the stuff they display voluntarily. Still, the world should know that he wasn't the first.

Michael Hafftka did the same thing in 1981. I don't have too many details, but I know that he hung his art at MoMA sometime in the morning and it remained there until later in the day when he told museum security about it. Unfortunately, I could not find any direct evidence online to confirm all the details, but my uncle knew him fairly well at the time and told me this story a few years ago.

Therefore, I put it to all of you internet supersleuths out there to see if you can find an old article about this somewhere. Maybe it's on Lexis Nexus or something similar, but a few Google searches got me nowhere. In the meantime, I emailed Michael Hafftka to see if he can fill in the details of the story and provide an article or something discussing his stunt.

As I hear from various sources, I'll post it here.

Update (3/24/05): I just received a reply from Hafftka and it seems I was only partially right about the story. He explained, "As I remember it though I put a poster up in the MoMa to advertise my show in a space that a conceptual artist created as a project for other artists to contribute to. [...] At any rate as I remember it the museum objected and took my work down." Well, that seems less scandulous, but he also remembers another artist doing something similar. "I also remember years later there was another conceptual artist who put fake (photos of) electrical outlets and receptacles in the MoMa and other museums and called it art so that also is another strike against Banksy originality." Can any of you out there remember the artist's name?

Thanks Michael, for replying so quickly. It may not have happened exactly as my uncle remembered it, but it was certainly a precursor to Banksy's work. What's better is that Michael has art that was intentionally acquired by MoMA according to his bio.