The Washington Post

National Gallery Gauguin attacker strikes again

The woman who attacked a Gauguin painting at the National Gallery of Art in April attacked another painting at the museum last Friday, according to court records posted on The Smoking Gun. Four months after she attempted to rip the Gauguin painting “Two Tahitian Women” off of the wall, Susan Burns, 53, slammed Matisse’s “The Plumed Hat” against the wall, damaging the original antique frame. No damage to the painting, which is valued at $2.5 million, was apparent.

Henri Matisse. "The Plumed Hat," 1919 oil on canvas; Chester Dale Collection. National Gallery of Art (Courtesy National Gallery of Art; Chester Dale Collection)

In a sworn affadavit, Lt. Dexter Moten said that Burns slammed the painting against the wall three times. She was charged with felony destruction of government property, attempted theft, unlawful entry and contempt of court for violating an order barring her from entering the National Gallery after her previous incident.

The affadavit does not say why Burns attacked the Matisse. In April, she told investigators, “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. 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.” The painting was not harmed.

In April, Lisa de Moraes wrote about local TV stations’ difficulties covering the attack on the nude painting. Columnist Petula Dvorak wrote about obsessions with nudity and security. Katie Rogers wrote about other art throughout history that offended. Alexandra Petri joked that the Burns was “framed.” Elsewhere: A brief history of crazy art attacks.

Read more: Art attacker goes after Matisse

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.


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