'Nudity, homosexuality' sparked Gauguin attack: court

5th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

A woman who attacked a painting by French impressionist Paul Gauguin at the National Gallery in Washington wanted to destroy the tableau because it showed nudity and homosexuality, court documents seen Tuesday say.

"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," the woman was quoted as telling security officers who detained her after she tried to rip Gauguin's "Two Tahitian Women" from the gallery wall and beat it with her fist.

The suspect, who was identified as Susan Burns in the detaining officer's statement, said she thought the painting should be destroyed.

"I was trying to remove it. I think it should be burned," National Gallery police officer Dexter Moten quoted Burns as saying in a sworn statement filed with the Washington DC superior court.

Appearing somewhat unstable, Burns also said: "I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you."

Burns, whose age was not given in the court documents, on Friday allegedly entered the National Gallery where the Gauguin was on exhibit, walked over to the painting and tried to rip it off the wall.

She succeeded in getting some of the fixtures holding the painting to the wall to work loose and fall to the ground, and then began to pummel the middle of the painting with her fist before she was restrained by museum security guards.

Because the painting was protected by a transparent acrylic shield, it is believed to have sustained no damage, although laboratory tests were due to be carried out to ensure that was indeed the case.

The entire attack was caught on the museum's security cameras.

Burns faces charges of destruction of property worth less than $200 for the fixtures that fell to the floor and damage to the wall, and attempted theft of the painting, which the court documents say is worth an estimated $80 million.

"Two Tahitian Women" has been on display at the National Gallery since February, on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

© 2011 AFP

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