Susan Burns, scourge of early 20th century French artists, has struck again. Three months ago it was Gauguin’s evil breasts she assailed. This time her target was Matisse’s The Plumed Hat, which displays neither breasts nor a second woman for insane people to interpret as homosexual.
Here’s what happened according to the arrest affidavit sworn by police Lieutenant Dexter Moten.
On 5 August 2011 at approximately 12:50 PM a female, subsequently identified as Susan Burns, entered Gallery 43 on the Ground Floor of the West Building, National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, D.C. Burns then walked over to an oil painting by Henry Matisse entitled “The Plumed Hat” valued at 2.5 million dollars, grabbed both sides of the frame holding said painting and slammed the painting against the wall three times, damaging the antique original frame of the painting valued in excess of $250. No damage to the painting itself was immediately apparent.
(That frame appraisal sounds kind of low, as an aside. You could easily surpass that price framing your favorite Rush poster.)
Burns was arrested on the spot for felony destruction of government property, contempt of court, attempted theft, and unlawful entry. The contempt and unlawful entry charges are the result of her being barred from all museums and art galleries in Washington D.C. as a condition of her release after her attack on the Gauguin painting. She would have been guilty of contempt and unlawful entry simply from walking into the museum. Which raises the obvious question: why wasn’t she stopped at the door? Her picture should be plastered all over the security office.
After the attack she was held in a D.C. jail. At a mental observation hearing this week the judge declared her incompetent to stand trial and ordered her transfer to a mental health facility. She is now at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, rubbing elbows with the likes of John Hinkley, where she will be monitored closely. She was forcibly ejected from her own hearing today, however, so they’re going to have keep that monitoring going for a while, at least until her next hearing on September 7th and hopefully for far longer than that.
No word yet on why this modest lady wearing a large hat was her target.