sorry_postcard-p239347341305810380z85wg_400

Pissing On (or Near) Art at the Clyfford Still Museum

First, there was Duchamp’s “Fountain,” and since then piss, dung, feces, even menstrual blood have been handy tools of art. Andy Warhol made piss paintings and Andres Serrano pissed off the Catholic Church with his recently damaged¬†“Piss Christ.” Unfortunately, it appears that Carmen Tisch’s recent drunken escapade at the Clyfford Still Museum was nothing more than the behavior of a woman with an alcohol problem and not, in fact, performance art. (Hilarious sendup of same at Observer.com: Here.)

Tisch was arrested and charged with felony criminal mischief for punching, clawing and rubbing her buttocks against 1957-J No. 2 at the Clyfford Still Museum. She then leaned against the canvas, pulled her pants down and urinated on the floor. On Friday, January 6, the judge reduced her bond from $20,000 to $5,000. Tisch cried and appeared emotionally distraught during her court appearance.

The event has sparked some great headlines and even more entertaining commentary around the Internet and blogosphere.

  • Clyfford Still Painting Gets a Lap Dance in Denver appeared on Hyperallergic
  • Drunk Lady Rubs Butt, Tries to Pee on $30 Million Painting is how Gawker wrote the lede
  • Fox News took the (ahem) conservative approach with Colorado Woman Allegedly Punches, Urinates Near $30 M Painting
  • While Boing Boing went with Police Unsure if Woman Urinated on $30 M Abstract Expressionist Painting
  • Carmen Tish Charged with Criminal Mischief After Punching, Urinating Next to a $30 M Clyfford Still Painting was the extremely long headline on Huffington Post.

A few writers have pointed out the wall text next to the painting, which read: “I never wanted color to be color, texture to be texture, images to become images. I wanted them all to fuse into a living spirit.”

I’m pretty sure Ms. Tisch’s actions are not what Still had in mind.

The comments on the Internet and Facebook have been entertaining. Everywhere someone has made a crack about art critics:

  • “Everybody’s a critic. Although usually people give things a thumbs down, or at least half a star.” Gregory R

However, it was not just Denver where the commentary took issue with the painting itself. There are a plethora of comments from New York, Los Angeles and London stating the same thing:

  • My two year old could paint that! (No, they couldn’t)
  • Looks like she threw up on it! (No, it doesn’t)
  • I’ve got stains from paint spills in my garage that look just like that! (No, they don’t!)

And of course most people wanted to know how a painting is worth $30M and why it is going to cost the estimated $10,000 to repair it, etc. etc. And lots of people wondered why it wasn’t behind glass. To which I say, the experience of the work is not the same if it is hidden behind wall size sheets of glass.

A few of my favorite comments:

  • “Once in the courtroom and unshackled, Mrs. Tisch will present the final act of her performance art, STILL LIFE TRIBUTUM.” GranPrix
  • “So she took a number one or Number two?” Gr8ful Dude
  • “What would Duchamp do?” gardengirl
  • “I now have a new life goal: to create art so compelling that random lunatics are moved to rub their bodies (and bodily fluids) all over it.¬† Suck on that, Jeff Koons.” ruadh
  • “I hope they throw the (art history) book at her.” Mat Gleason
  • “Not an Onion article!” Dustin Blair
  • “To pee or not to pee, that’s the question. Whether it’s art in the minds of men…” Pat Platt
  • “A Colorado woman dropped her pants at a museum and rubbed her rear end all over a painting valued at $30 million, … Yes? And the story is?” Jerry Saltz
  • “No. I mean doesn’t everyone do this? I do all the time … ” Jerry Saltz
  • “Butt (ha) if she applies paint with same butt, is it art? : )” Sarah Ann Filler
  • “She missed. If it was a guy he’d of signed his name.” Sid Garrison
  • “$10k for a scratch and sniff test?” Art Valley
  • “It is obvious to me that it is totally the paintings fault.” Robin Winters

The most informative string of comments were found on ArtFagCity where Corinna Kirsch explains how to clean urine off a painting from Cray Thomsen, a conservator of 19th century Russian paintings. Because you never know when you might need to clean urine from a painting:

If it’s fresh enough just use a slightly damp soft cotton ball and dap the “accident” up followed by a dry cotton ball. If it had been there for years and was starting to effect the paint I would clean it with a q-tip and a vulpex soap mixture follow by water and then a dry cotton ball to lick up all the moisture. Just make sure not to saturate the substrate!

And the craziest conspiracy theory:

I bet the museum paid her to do it just to get publicity and bring in more revenue. That piece would probably look better with piss all over it. Education is being cut and teachers are being laid off but that “painting” is worth >$30 mil? Silly. I kind of want to piss on it myself now. theeltimbo

But I think my favorite is this:

  • “I know I am a tasteless Philistine, but honestly, this painting is “great?” Wow. Who knew?” littletonguy

Citizen journalism and citizen bathrooms appear to be growing closer.

Read more by
Write us your thoughts about this post. Play nice.