Susan Burns came back for more mayhem at the National Gallery of Art this week. Burns, who sparked headlines around the world in April for losing her shit and attempting to take her rage out on Paul Gauguin’s “Two Tahitian Women.” The painting was unharmed and Burns was taken into custody for extensive screening, which prompted one of this year’s most remarkable crime-scene quotes:
“I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you,” she told investigators.
With the federal cultural institutions’ knack for life-time bans, one would think such a penalty could have been imposed on Burns. But last week, she returned, her sights set on Henri Matisse‘s “The Plumed Hat.” According to police documents obtained by The Smoking Gun, Burns “grabbed both sides of the frame” holding the painting valued at $2.5 million and “slammed the painting against the wall three times, damaging the antique original frame.” She’s been charged with unlawful entry, destroying property, and attempted theft and is currently in custody at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, The Smoking Gun reported.
Look, we all get mad. But the thing is, we don’t really know what set Burns off this time. During the Gauguin brouhaha, Burns told the cops she felt that the Post-Impressionist was “evil.”
“He has nudity and is bad for the children. He has two women in the painting and it’s very homosexual. I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned,” she said in April.
But “The Plumed Hat” is just a woman wearing a frilly hat—and she’s fully clothed, too. No bare-breasted women embracing here.
Then again, the recent wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton did feature a bevy of outlandish millinery. Perhaps Burns has been tormented by the most nagging question since the royal nuptials: Just what the hell was that on Princess Beatrice’s head?
We may never know. And even though Burns snuck back into the NGA for another rampage, she attacked another work that Arts Desk is perfectly fine with. Next time she’s out, she should consider one of these pieces that stick in our critical craw.
Christopher Knight, what do you think?