News

Woman attacks Gauguin painting of bare-breasted women at National Gallery

Pin it

Screaming "This is evil," a fifty-three-year-old Georgia woman attacked Paul Gauguin's "Two Tahitian Women" last week, attempting to pull the painting off a wall at the National Gallery, and drumming on the plastic covering with her fists. "Two Tahitian Women" was apparently unharmed, though the gallery has removed it for a more thorough assessment.

The painting's two brown-skinned women display a total of three bare breasts, which museum officials quickly assumed were the source of Susan J. Burns's disapprobation. This was later confirmed: according to the Washington Post, the attacker told police, "I feel that Gauguin is evil. He has nudity, and it is bad for the children. He had two women in the painting, and it’s very homosexual." (So much for our office theory that she was a disgruntled postcolonialist.) Of course, Burns also apparently told museum guards, "I am from the American CIA, and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you," so maybe the problem is closer to straight-up mental illness than any kind of religious outrage.

If there's a hero in this story, it's the museum visitor who tackled Burns, reportedly (this could not be more appropriate) a social worker from the Bronx, who probably deals with worse before lunch most days. Whoever that guy was, he should almost certainly get paid more.