This is why we can’t have nice things, Denver

So, quick quiz. You’re in a new museum, one that is named after and dedicated to a prominent abstract expressionist painter, looking at one of said painter’s masterworks. Do you:

A) Nod knowingly while noting how the work eschews traditional figurative representation in an effort to access a rawer, more visceral, emotional universality.

B) Daydream about wealth, fame, and the day that whatever it is you’ve been doing in your basement for all these years will have its own museum.

C) Comment loudly that it looks like something that your five-year-old daughter could have painted.

D) Punch and scratch the painting, pull down your pants and rub your ass on it, then fall down and pee on yourself.

If you answered “D” you might be Carmen Tisch, 36-year-old art participant, who did just this to Clyfford Still’s “1957-J no.2” on December 29 at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.

Carmen Tisch. Vandal, or performance artist? You be the judge. Image via MSNBC.

While the painting’s value is estimated at somewhere between 30 and 40 million dollars (by the museum, so, you know, grain of salt), damage is estimated at around $10,000. Not so bad, really. Also, according to the Denver Post:

“It doesn’t appear she urinated on the painting or that the urine damaged it, so she’s not being charged with that,” said Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney’s Office, said Wednesday.

 So, that’s good news, I guess.

1957-J no.2, but before or after the ass rubbing?

Ivar Zeile, a gallery owner in Denver, was quoted by the Post as saying that the painting can probably be restored, but, “It does damage the piece, though, even people just knowing that happened,” which is like, what? Dude, I guarantee you that prior to this incident, 99% of Americans had never heard of Clyfford Still. If anything, this woman just dramatically increased the value of the piece.

Actually, the museum ought to be paying her a commission for adding an awesome narrative to a piece of art that would not otherwise be of interest to the vast majority of the public. The fact is, a whole bunch of people will probably go into the museum now who would not have before. A few of them are going to look around and say, “Hey, this stuff is actually pretty cool.”

Thank you, Carmen Lucette Tisch. You’re like the drunk, pantsless Bill Nye of mid-century American abstract expressionism.

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