Visual Arts

Steal This Art


Art lovers were agog last week when thieves made off with twelve works from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The haul included a Manet, a couple of Rembrandts and Vermeer's "Concert," well-known to all former Art History 101 students.

The event set us to thinking. Is all art theft necessarily bad? Couldn't the Phoenix Art Museum do without some of the stuff that clutters its walls?

With this thought in mind, we went over to have a look. Even with the room usually set aside for cowboy 'n' Indian dreck usurped by the Frank Lloyd Wright show, we found a surprising amount of art that just doesn't make it. Here's what New Times thinks some enterprising second-story man should lift from the Phoenix Art Museum.

Fred, here's a Picasso! Who cares if it stinks as long as it's got The Great Man's name on it? To pander to the miniseries mentality even further, a helpful informational label talks about PP's mistresses. Right.

Peter Hurd
Portrait of Nito
no date

You can say this about Peter Hurd--he's as bad as Andrew Wyeth. His stuff looks like illustrations from an old copy of Riders of the Purple Sage. So why is it in a museum?


Giambattista Piazzetti
A Young Hunstman or Young Huntsman on the Watch

Even with two titles, this painting's a loser. The young man seems to be suffering from the same eye-popping disease that afflicted Bette Davis. And the dog at the left looks like he's being sucked into the picture frame.


French School
Haman Begs for His Life
Late eighteenth-early nineteenth century

This sure is an Old Master, you betchum. A surprising number of the models for this one seem to be dozing. Frankly, so are we. No wonder the guy didn't sign it.


John Mix Stanley
Chain of Spires Along the Gila River

This is what Arizona looks like if you spend too much time admiring the Hudson River school of landscape. Maybe Arizona really did look like that, before all the water was put into canals. 4.

Jean-Leon Gerome
Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down)

Admittedly, Gerome is A Big Name. But this still looks like a publicity shot from one of those 1950s toga epics. Isn't that Tony Curtis holding the sword?


Frederick Remington
Mountain Man

This is the fellow to whom we owe the scourge that is Western art. Even in 1903 this piece was fraudulent. No wonder the crowds on free Wednesdays just love it--they think it's John Wayne. Don't just steal it; melt it down.


Joseph Henry Sharp
circa 1930

Sharp mined that vein of quaint Indians up in Taos who apparently did nothing but wear blankets and lean against walls. At least the fellow on the right has the good grace to look embarrassed, probably at the money he charged Sharp for posing.


Ossip Zadkine
The Cellist (Seated Harlequin)

This looks like something the foundry dropped--formless, lumpy, ugly. In his attempt to knock off Picasso, Zadkine turned out what would make a nice doorstop.


Hans Jean Arp and Egido Constantini
Collage #3

Arp did these things all his life. You have to wonder why. 10.

Francisco Zuniga
The Door and the Window

Oh, those enduring Indians, gazing nobly into the distance. This cliched piece is politically correct, however, with a label in both Spanish and English. That must explain it.


Hoge Day

This picture proves that the folks who hate modern art aren't all wrong. It's made of oil, tar and tarpaper on wood--so's your roof.