May 25, 2022

"Miller still remembers her shock at receiving a phone call, five years ago, from a New Mexico antiques dealer who discovered that the estate-sale painting he had just placed in his shop was in fact 'Woman-Ochre.'"

"The dealer, David Van Auker, had bought the canvas as part of the estate of Jerry and Rita Alter, retired schoolteachers who lived nearby with the painting for decades. They had hung it in their bedroom in an odd spot, obscured by the bedroom door whenever it was open. As shown in the colorful, caper-like new documentary 'The Thief Collector,' all signs point to the Alters having stolen the painting for their own private enjoyment, from photographs that place the couple in the area the day before the crime to police sketches that match their features. (According to an FBI agent in the film, the investigation is no longer active.)"

 From "Sacred or Sexist? After a Brazen Theft, Seeing de Kooning in a New Light/When 'Woman-Ochre' goes on view at the Getty Museum after its conservation, the painting will have a new mystique. But competing interpretations remain" (NYT). 

Miller = "Olivia Miller, the exhibitions curator at the Arizona Museum of Art, [who] acknowledged the artwork’s aggressive content but also argues that it has acquired a new mystique because of the theft... [and] discussed it as a 'sacred object' when asked to speak in a religious studies class.'"

The question whether this painting is sexist is so old that I'm not in the mood to talk about it. Form your own opinion:

35 comments:

JAORE said...

Of course it's sexist. Look what they are doing to that mouse!

Sweet baby gee-buz, people are triggered by the damnedest things.

Fred Drinkwater said...

They hung that thing in their bedroom, eh?
"Violently ugly" were the words that immediately came to my mind.

rhhardin said...

Boobs but possibly wearing a bra. Seems to be interested in soap opera.

WK said...

SpongeBob Squarepants - Ochre

tim maguire said...

I don't think I can form my own opinion. I need an art expert to tell me what I'm looking at and why I should be offended before I can decide if I'm offended. Or better yet, just save me the bother by deciding for me.

Narayanan said...

crazy times if that is a museum piece

Steve Schainost said...

First impression: Ugly. After study: Still ugly.

Ted said...

The idea that this couple stole the painting for "their private enjoyment" doesn't hold up to logic. So a pair of middle-age schoolteachers undertook a brazen art heist -- of a spectacularly ugly painting -- only to hang it behind the door of their bedroom where it couldn't be seen most of the time? It seems more likely that they agreed with all the experts calling this painting sexist, and decided it would be a public service to remove it from display at their local museum.

chuck said...

Ooh la la.

boatbuilder said...

OK then. Whatever.

mikee said...

I have formed my opinion regarding the sexist or not painting. Like Joshu and the tearoom proprietor, this report concludes my discussion of the subject.

Modern koans are fun.

David-2 said...

This is one of those paintings they figure out has been hung upside down in the museum for the last 25 years.

Possibly right side up?

Earnest Prole said...

The New Puritanism.

Smilin' Jack said...

Let me be the first to say I did better than that with finger paints in grade school.

minnesota farm guy said...

Where is Kramer when you need him?

Kai Akker said...

I'd bet it's a pretty good likeness of Rita.

Did Jerry ever call it sexist? I bet there are zero reports of him calling it sexist.

I would also bet that Rita the schoolteacher considered herself a feminist, and she looked at it every night. Unless she made Jerry cover it with a pillowcase. Now, maybe Rita did secretly think it was a little sexist. But she knew what effect it had on Jerry..... so she really didn't mind if it were.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Story of a guy who stole $1.4 billion in art work from museums for his personal collection.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVBU_Dpdbl0

Seems that for the most part, except for the larger ones, museum security is crap. Most of the time he would just walk in, take a painting off the wall, and walk right out.

Rosalyn C. said...

I think it's kind of sexy in an explicitly carnal kind of way, the violence of blood, sex, etc. Who knows what kind of sex life and fantasies our teachers have? (At least not until Libs of Tiktok exposed all that.)

PS. Obviously they had to keep the painting hidden in the bedroom, forbidden fruit under wraps so to speak. Perhaps the fact that they stole it and they got away with the crime also was titilating. See: The Thomas Crown Affair, etc.

Two-eyed Jack said...

It reminds me of Hefner's similarly themed Jayne Mansfield - July from the same year, but done by someone with a more tenuous knowledge of anatomy and poor draughtsmanship.

Craig said...

I thought it was a pile of clothes in a laundry basket, but that's why I stick to art from the Renaissance. They used to be able to paint things that are recognizable. I guess photography made that level of art obsolete. I was not offended, just made me depressed about all the dirty clothes in my basement.

Craig

Clyde said...

@ David-2

My thoughts exactly! 😃

Jupiter said...

Worthless piece of shit? Check.

Quaestor said...

If it's sexist, what do we do? Burn it?

rhhardin said...

Looks fine to me as a painting. A bedroom would be the right room for it, if I were choosing a place.

StephenFearby said...

Blogger Steve Schainost said...
First impression: Ugly. After study: Still ugly.

How 'bout Coyote Ugly!

Urban Dictionary:

coyote ugly

A situation encountered after a night of consuming alcohol whereby a person, usually male, wakes the next morning in a strange bed with a sexual partner from the previous evening who is completely physically undesirable (see ugly, nasty, two-bagger) and sleeping on the man's arm.

The hapless male would rather gnaw off his own arm than wake the woman and have to face the ills of his intoxicated choices the previous evening.

Originating from a phenomena whereby a coyote captured in a jaw trap will chew off its own leg to escape certain death.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=coyote%20ugly

effinayright said...

We all know the art term, "Still Life".

We need a new one for this:

I propose we use Steve Schainost's..... "Still Ugly".

Bitter Clinger said...

The only thing worse than modern "art" is the pretentiousness of people debating the meaning of such a steaming pile.

stephen cooper said...

de Kooning was not as good as Hans Hoffman, and he should never have attempted a portrait, because of his ignorance of art and his cold ignorance about what people look like, their faces, their expressions, and so on ----- but the little guy's landscapes were not terrible.
He excelled in his early years, with 'not completly untalented' night-scapes and transcriptions of the patterns of urban trash, with paintings that were, here and there, paintings that were, while not as good as paintings that millions of other artists could have painted, paintings that captured a little bit of what people who are not artists see in dreams, in a way painted by someone who worked hard at the impossible, for him, goal of being a real artist, rather than a bogus but non insincere phony in the art world.
It is all very sad, he could have been a beloved and happy cook at a bistro, or maybe a good and well-liked worker at one of those artisan factories that used to exist but that now are only seen in the dreams of rich trust-fund kids in Brooklyn.

Narr said...

It's neither sexist nor sacred.

I don't have any doubt that two screwy people could get up to something like this; book and map thieves often amass hundreds and more stolen items for the sheer pleasure of illicit acquisition.

RigelDog said...

I am delighted by the fact that when Miller first saw the painting after getting the call from the antique dealer she fell to her knees and exclaimed, "Holy shitballs!"

Narr said...

"de Kooning was not as good as Hans Hoffman . . . ."

Have a care, sirrah, have a care.

Lurker21 said...

Maybe the "private enjoyment" wasn't of the painting but of the theft. They could have kept their relationship alive by taking dares and doing dangerous things. Supposedly, they visited every continent and almost all the countries of the world (or said they did), and extensively videotaped their trips. Jerry was (self-)published author. Folie à deux.

Somebody online is wondering if they were behind Boston's Gardner Museum heist. That's very unlikely.

Bonkti said...

Looks like Ernest Hemingway playing dress-up.

Might it be cross-dressist rather than sexist?

Narayanan said...

How to Steal a Million
this peter o'toole audrey hepburn movie is quite enjoyable == The daughter of an art forger teams up with a burglar to steal one of her father's forgeries and protect his secret.

Kai Akker said...

---The question whether this painting is sexist is so OLD that I'm not in the mood to talk about it.

Questions about sexism are old, quite right -- my emphasis added. That category seems like a Victorian-era notion, which I think is good.

What strikes me today is how antiquated the painting itself looks. And I don't dislike it. It just looks so..... last century. So old and out-of-fashion. Quaint.