Attack on Art: Crazy and Clueless in Washington, DC

One of the most amazing things about DC is our incredible access to some of the world’s most revered art.  On any given afternoon you can slip into the National Portrait Gallery or the National Gallery of Art and gaze upon the divine work of Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir or Leonardo da Vinci.  All for free. Pop in for a 5 minute stroll or spend hours wandering the halls reading every caption to every piece.Unfortunately, though, the fantastic free for all policy has turned into a real free-for-all!  On August 5th, a 53 year old woman from Alexandria, Virginia was arrested for casually walking into Washington’s National Gallery of Art, allegedly yanking down Henri Matisse’s $2.5 million painting “The Plumed Hat” and repeatedly slamming into the wall.  Mon Dieu! C’est terrible! Read the official court report here.

The Plumed Hat, 1919 Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954)

Although crazy-pants thankfully caused no damage to this incredible work of art (only the original, antique frame) its shocking to discover that this incident comes only four months after a similar attack.  During the first week of April the same woman was arrested for trying to pull Paul Gauguin’s painting “Two Haitian Women” from the wall, beating it with her fists and trying to remove the plastic cover.  This painting is valued at $80 million and while it also suffered no physical damage, the woman could be heard from the adjacent room screaming at the top of her lungs “This is evil!”

Two Haitian Women, 1899 Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903)

According to the Washington Post, the perpetrator later told the court, “I feel that Gauguin is evil. He has nudity and is bad for the children. He has two women in the painting and it’s very homosex­ual. I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned.”Since art was first conceived there have been those who’ve sought to deface, devalue, discredit it.  I realize this is nothing new.  However, if history has taught ME anything, its that once people start burning books or art… well… you know what’s next.

Let’s embrace it not deface it, cats and kittens.  We should all be so lucky to explore our talents and gracefully share our worldview with any onlooker. Crazy or not…

–Aimee

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