Woman Attacked Gaugin Because It Was So Totally Gay

Illustration for article titled Woman Attacked Gaugin Because It Was So Totally Gay

A woman who lunged at a Gaugin painting in the National Gallery screaming "this is evil!" says she had her reasons.

Describes the Washington Post of the unprovoked attack, Susan Burns, 53,

tried to pull Gauguin's "Two Tahitian Women" from a gallery wall Friday and banged on the picture's clear plastic covering, said Pamela Degotardi of New York, who was there. "She was really pounding it with her fists," Degotardi said. "It was like this weird surreal scene that one doesn't expect at the National Gallery." Gallery spokeswoman Deborah Ziska said no damage to the 1899 painting was immediately apparent after the 4:45 p.m. incident. But she said a more thorough examination will be conducted Monday.

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Her explanation to cops?

I feel that Gauguin is evil. He has nudity and is bad for the children. He has two women in the painting and it's very homosexual.

And in case you're wondering, yes, Burns seems to be unwell. "I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned...I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you." Oh, and she has prior convictions for "carjacking, disorderly conduct, trespassing, and assault on a law enforcement officer." The painting's fine; now let's get her some help.

National Gallery Visitor Attacks Gauguin Painting, Officials Say [Washington Post]
Gauguin Attacker: Painting Is 'Very Homosexual' [Newser]
Gauguin Masterpiece Unharmed After Attack At National Gallery [Washington Post]

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DISCUSSION

I'm a social worker and I'm no fun, but since I work as an advocate for people with severe and chronic mental illness... it's always a bit of a bummer to see people be like "hehehe! chortle! this woman is ca-raaaazy! she thinks she's in the CIA, that's just silly!" Or laughing at her stated reason for attacking the painting. It sounds like these statements she's made are symptoms of a possibly very serious mental disorder.

I mean, if I'm wrong, and she's got the current mental capacity to make reasoned decisions, and she STILL decided to attack the painting and call it gay, then I'd probably roll my eyes and laugh too. But given all the components of this situation....it sounds like she really isn't well (as the original article stated) and I guess it's hard for me to find her actions funny, knowing that they come from a pretty serious and problematic source. (In all likelihood).

Social workers ruin everyone's fun, I know. But it just bugged me a little.