Last Friday, on April 1, 2011, a female tourist visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. attacked a Paul Gauguin painting called “Two Tahitian Women“.
The 1899 painting measures 37 inches by 281 / 2 inches.
According to the Washington Post when the woman couldn’t pull the painting from the gallery wall
… she screamed, ‘This is evil!’ and pounded it with her fists.
“It was like this weird surreal scene that one doesn’t expect at the National Gallery,” said Pamela Degotardi of New York, a bystander to the incident.
I don’t know what inspired the random attack, but I don’t believe it was an April Fool’s stunt. The Museum has charged the woman with destruction of property and attempted theft.
Part of the exhibit “Gauguin: Maker of Myth,” the painting was on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In W. Somerset Maugham‘s 1919 novel, “The Moon and Sixpence” a middle-aged English stockbroker, Charles Strickland abandons his wife and children to pursue his dream of becoming an artist, which was supposedly based on the life of Gauguin, and though I don’t know how many of the details of the book are factual I know Gauguin was French and not English, and after reading the novel earlier this year, I’d love to learn more about this crazy painter, and really really really would love to see the show.
One never forgets random acts of violence. One quiet afternoon about half a dozen years ago I was working at the Photography Satellite store when a young male tourist smashed a photograph. On exhibit were Lee Miller‘s Second World War photographs, which included the liberation of Dachau and Buchenwald, and the photo that caused the angry outburst was the suicide of a Nazi, his wife and daughter.
close up of the suicide photo
Leipzig, April 1945
and the famous photo of Lee Miller taking a bath in Hitler’s tub
[Thank you JB for sharing the Gauguin story with me.]