Top 5 Visual Arts Headaches

From a botched portrait of Jesus to ditzy galleristas, a list of the year’s biggest art gaffes.

By Hannah Gold

[img id=”102609″ align=”left”/] Call Me Dada?

This past summer, in Borjas, Spain, 80-year-old Celia Giménez took it upon herself to restore a 1930s fresco by Elías García, which belongs to the local Misericordia church. The fresco, titled “Ecce Homo” (“Behold The Man”), was a typical religious rendering of Christ’s face. As a result of Giménez’s efforts, however, the subject now looks like a man-owl hybrid drawn hastily with Crayolas. Once the botched job became an internet sensation this past summer, tourists started paying to see “beast Jesus” in the flesh—apocalyptic airline Ryanair even arranged special flights to Zaragoza airport to facilitate this holy art pilgrimage. The travesty prompted art snobs everywhere to give the piece a series of facetious names, including “Ecce Mono” (“Behold the Monkey”), because, you know, it’s poorly done. However, if you’re cool with Ai Weiwei painting over Neolithic vases in pretty pastels, I don’t see why this self-appointed art restorer can’t give Jesus an impressionistic neck-beard.

Teetering On The Precipice of Moroseness 

This chick named Angela once said of her photography, “It’s really just teetering on the precipice of moroseness,” and that’s probably also how extremely generous critics would describe the show she said it on—Bravo TV’s Gallery Girls, which premiered this past August. This is the story of seven girls who are hired by a “brand-new” gallery in Manhattan called End of Century (a real gallery, which opened years ago). While there, they do super artsy things like live in Williamsburg, despise each other, and not show up for work. All this whilst turning out quotable gold, for example, Angela’s, “Like, don’t get béchamel sauce all over my clothes.” Watching these girls watch their iPhones for an hour is kind of like watching the same spot on a blank gallery wall for an hour.

Monet, Monet, Monet

Picasso, Monet, Gaugin, and Matisse walk into a bar. The bartender asks what they’ll be having, and the crazy Dutch art thieves who just stole a shit-ton of priceless paintings order their celebratory drinks. The Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam experienced a heavy lift this past October when several pieces from its 20th anniversary exhibit, including Claude Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge, London” (1901) and Pablo Picasso’s “Harlequin Head” (1971), were taken in the middle of the night. The gallery’s security was state of the art and completely automated (I’m thinking complex matrix of laser beam trip wires?). It’s difficult to know exactly what the thieves were after—the paintings can be sold on the black market, but only at a greatly depreciated price.

A Tale Of Two Christie’s

Ever looked at a price tag and had to stifle a piercing scream? Apparently some super rich person didn’t. A pastel version of Edvard Munch’s expressionist painting “The Scream” (first painted in 1893) was sold through Sotheby’s for nearly $120 million in May, making it the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. The painting is the iconic image of a hairless human figure standing on a bridge in front of a rippling sky, clutching at its face in agony, or, as experts in the field of visual arts refer to it, “the face that launched 1,000 therapists.” Days later, Sotheby’s biggest auction house competitor, Christie’s, struck back with their own record-breaking sale of Rothko’s “Orange Red Yellow” (1961), which fetched a cool $87 million, making it the most expensive post-war work to be sold in an auction.

It’s My Marnie, And She’ll Cry If She Wants To

The verdict is in—no character on HBO’s Girls has been more antagonizing than Marnie. Juli Wiener of Vanity Fair called her, “a gallerina with overbearing mothering tendencies,” and not without reason. Just like Charlotte in the hit HBO series that came before her, Marnie is an assistant at an incredibly clean art gallery in New York. Also like her Sex and the City predecessor, she is gorgeous and confident on the outside, yet toxically insecure and neurotic within. When we first meet Marnie she is a fairly sympathetic character—a recent college graduate still dating her college boyfriend, Charlie. After a few bouts of hilariously awful sex, the two break up and Marnie spends the rest of the season wrapped up in her bitterness and destructive, perfectionist drives. Here’s hoping that Season Two helps smooth over Marnie’s uppity Chelsea girl reputation.