tales of the avant-garde: brief moments in which celebrated artists interact in unrealistic or inappropriate settings

Gauguin: (out of breath) ‘Monet, you paint like a sissy.’
Monet: (breathless) ‘Paul, you are a boor and an animal


by troy dockins


Artists: Gauguin, Beuys, Monet
Setting: An English Dungeon during the Middle Ages

Beuys: (In German) “Fuck, It’s dark in here”.
(Gauguin and Monet squint at Beuys in anger and horror)
Gauguin and Monet: (In French and in unison) “A fucking German!…KILL HIM!”
(they bum rush and then stomp the hapless and defenseless German artist/shaman to death)
Gauguin: (out of breath) “Monet, you paint like a sissy.”
Monet: (breathless) “Paul, you are a boor and an animal.”
(despite the difference in their artistic proclivities, i.e. Impressionism versus Post-Impressionism, the Frenchmen embrace and kiss passionately over the lifeless body of Beuys)


Moral: The anger towards other cultures can carry into future generations…and apparently into past generations as well.

Artists: Duchamp, Picasso, and Warhol
Setting: Nuclear Test Site in Nevada, USA

Picasso: (in Spanish) “I must paint…the bull.”
Warhol: “Oh…ummm.”
Duchamp: (in French) “The desert is dessert.”
Warhol: “Oh…hmmm.”
Picasso: “The bombs, they fall, they strike, jagged and fragmented in their precision. I must paint…the bull.”
Warhol: “Oh…huh.”
Duchamp: “The cloud, the mushroom, the mushroom cloud…loud cloud.”
Warhol: “Oh…I…”
Picasso: “The rocket it approaches, magnificent! I…must…paint…the bull.”
Warhol: “Oh…my.”
Duchamp: “Boom Boom Selavy, my alter ego.”
Warhol: “Oh…who?”
(a nuclear blast engulfs the site, instantly vaporizing the three artists)


Moral: Simple weapons of mass destruction can overwhelm even the most poignant and dedicated art.

Artists: Dali, David, and Homer
Setting: A strip club in Cleveland, Ohio USA

Dali: (in Spanish) “My God, look at the tits on her! I’m melting! It’s nine o’clock! Aiieeeeeeeeeee!!! (screaming)
Homer: (staring at Dali in bewilderment) “What in the name of God is the matter with you?” (begins to beat on the Spanish Surrealist with a truncheon)
David: (in French) “Her flesh…so supple. I must have her as a model for Liberty. I serve France. (he salutes)
Dali: “Aiiiiiieeeeee!!! (continues to scream)
Homer: (continuing to beat Dali) “Shut the hell up, damn your eyes”. (Dali’s eyes bug out freakishly as he screams)
David: “Where are my brushes? Where is my canvas? My assistants? Ingres, you bastard!” (shakes his fist in the air)
Dali: “Your yellow suit, so slick, so erotic, I must lick it!” (he begins to lick Homer)
David: “Why does he lick thus? Perhaps, I must lick as well in the service of my emperor.” (David also begins to lick Homer)
Homer: (begins to beat David with the truncheon as well) “Jesus Christ! Get off me, you freaks!”
(a new stripper takes the stage)
Homer: “My God, look at the tits on her. (stops beating Dali and David, who also stare, transfixed, at the stripper)


Moral: Breasts, large and small, can distract most males of the human species regardless of levels of intelligence, insanity, or dedication to purpose.

Artists: Mappelthorpe, Pollock, Leonardo Da Vinci
Setting: An auction at Christie’s

Auctioneer: What am I bid for this, Lot 74, an assortment of taxidermy…stuffed animals of every sort? Let us start the bidding at 2000 pounds.”
Mappelthorpe: “2000 pounds”.
Auctioneer: “I have 2000 pounds, do I have 2500?”
Pollock: (spits)
Auctioneer: “I have 2500, do I have 3000?”
Mappelthorpe: (shoots a look at Pollock) “3000.”
Auctioneer: “I have 3000, do I have 3500?”
Pollock: (burps loudly)
Auctioneer: “I have 3500, do I have 4000?”
Mappelthorpe: (visibly angry) “4000.”
Pollock: (farts, but the auctioneer does not hear it…he can smell it, however)
Auctioneer: “I have 4000, do I have 4500? Going once, going twice, gone. Sold to Mr. Mappelthorpe for 4000 pounds.”
(later, in a small room, at Christie’s warehouse)
Mappelthorpe: Leonardo, would you shove this pheasant up your ass?’
Leonardo: (laughs toothlessly, then smiles a coy Mona Lisa-like smile) “Si.” (and does what Mappelthorpe has asked…soon a stuffed ringed pheasant protrudes from the buttocks of the famous Renaissance Master)
Mapplethorpe: (snaps picture after picture) “That’s it! Good, good.”
(Pollock, smoking a cigarette, walks up to Leonardo and knocks him to the ground. He urinates on him.)
Mappelthorpe: (strips his clothes off, quickly reloads and keeps shooting) “Excellent! Yes, that’s it.”
(Pollock shakes off on the prostrate Renaissance master and lights another cigarette)


Moral: Robert Mappelthorpe was a pain in the ass.

Artists: Ono, Rauschenberg, Johns
Setting: Hardware store in Hamburg, Germany

Ono: “Hi, I’m Yoko” (shakes hands with Johns, then Rauschenberg)
Johns: “I’m Jasper. This is Robert. (gestures to Rauschenberg)
Ono: “I really love your guys work…fantastic, really.”
Rauschenberg: “Thanks. So you know John Lennon.”
Ono: (sounding irritated) “Well, yeah…he’s my husband.”
Johns: (condescendingly) “We know he’s your husband.”
Ono: “Well then, why’d you ask if I knew him?”
Johns: (growing angry) “I didn’t, Robert did.”
Ono: “Whatever.”
Rauschenberg: “Whatever.”
Ono: “Look this is stupid, I’m sorry, let’s start over…OK?”
Johns: (still angry) “Whatever.”
Ono: “C’mon, let’s recreate one of my pieces from my Fluxus period. I call it ‘Hammer’. We each drive a nail into piece of wood. It’s how I met John, coincidentally.”
Rauschenberg: (smiling & looking at Johns) “OK…let’s do it.”
Ono: (walks down the aisle) “I’ll go get the nails.”
Johns: “I’ll grab the hammer.”
Rauschenberg: “I’ll get the wood.”
(The three meet in aisle 7, Ono kneels)
Ono: “Hand me the wood.” (Rauschenberg does) “Hand me the hammer.” (Johns does, Ono taps a nail into the wood) “There, your turn Jasper.” (hands Johns the hammer and nails) “Go ahead.”
Rauschenberg: (grabs Ono in a headlock) “Got her.”
Ono: (muffled and worried) “What are you doing?”
Johns: “This is for breaking up the Beatles, you bitch!” (taps a nail into her head, Ono screams and struggles to no avail)
Rauschenberg: “And these are for all the shitty songs that the ex-Beatles wrote…like ‘Silly Love Songs’…(tap, tap, tap)
Ono: “Aieeeeee!”
Johns: “And ‘Crackerbox Palace’…(tap, tap, tap)
Ono: “Aieeeeeeeee!”
Rauschenberg: “And those songs Ringo did.” (tap, tap, tap)
Ono: “Aieeeeeeeeeeee!
Johns: “And for the times you sang!” (tap, tap, tap)
Ono: Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (passes out)
Rauschenberg: (drops her) “Whatever.”
Johns: (turning away) “Look, lawn darts.”
Moral: Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns can and will react violently to Fluxus performance pieces…Do not reenact them in their presence.

Artists: Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Bosch
Setting: A dive bar in Pittsburgh, PA USA

Bartender: “What’ll it be, Gents?”
Bosch: “Mead.”
Caravaggio: “Grappa.”
Van Gogh: “Absinthe.”
Bartender: (quizzically) “Welllll…I don’t have any of those. How about a beer? Or a shot?”
Van Gogh: (looking deranged, stands and grabs the edge of the bar) “No Absinthe?” (he demands)
Bartender: “Sorry, bub.”
Van Gogh: (to Caravaggio) “Can I borrow your knife?”
Caravaggio: “Sure.” (hands it to Van Gogh)
(Van Gogh saws off his ear with Caravaggio’s knife and hands it back to him. Blood streams down the side of the French Post-Impressionist’s head. Caravaggio licks the blade clean.)
Bartender: (horrified) “Jesus Christ!”
Van Gogh: (slams his severed ear on the bar and glares at the bartender) “Absinthe!”
Bosch: (grabs the ear and peers at it) “Can I have an olive?”
Bartender: (keeping an eye on Van Gogh) “Sure.” (and hands Bosch the olive. Bosch removes the pimento and lodges the olive in the canal of the severed ear. He sets it on the bar and gazes at it, transfixed.
Caravaggio: “I’ll have…how do you say?…a shot.” (the bartender sets it up, still wary of the deranged Van Gogh)
(a hooker walks in, walks up to the bar)
Hooker: “Hi, Rudy. Can I get a gin and tonic?”
Bartender: “Sure, Ginny….come’n right up.”
Hooker: (winks at Van Gogh) “Hey, sailor.”
Van Gogh: (smiling crookedly) “My name is Vincent.”
Hooker: “Hey, Vincent.”
(Caravaggio stares at the hooker lecherously over Van Gogh’s shoulder)
Bosch: Can I have some toothpicks?” (he spears the ear from different angles and props it up on the bar. His brow furrowed, he ponders his strange construction)
(Rudy the bartender hands them to him and hands Ginny the hooker her drinks. She sips it demurely, glancing from Van Gogh to Caravaggio)
Caravaggio: “I would like to paint your portrait, Ginny. Will you model for me?”
Hooker: “Sure.”
Van Gogh: (glaring at Caravaggio) “I will paint you too!”
Hooker: (beaming) “OK!”
Caravaggio: (moves to a table near the window) “Over here, the light, the chiaroscuro…perfecto!
Hooker: (sashays over to the table, Van Gogh follows) “Here?”
Caravaggio: “Bellisima.” (the hooker sits, bathed in the afternoon light)
Bosch: “Can I borrow a napkin and a pen?”
Bartender: “Here you go.” (Bosch draws intently)
Bartender: (to Van Gogh and Caravaggio) “Hey, you guys…don’t do that!” (the two artist have begun to paint on the walls with squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard)
Van Gogh: (turns and glares at the bartender) “Absinthe!”
Bartender: (throws his hands in the air) “I give up!” (turning to Bosch) “What is it with your friends, pal?” (Bosch is silent and continues to draw)
Van Gogh: (sucking on the end of the ketchup nipple, in rapt concentration, frowns…then throws the squeeze bottle down) “It needs something more.” (he looks around, heads to the bar and grabs the condiment tray of olives and maraschino cherries)
Bartender: “Hey!” (Van Gogh shoots him a withering look of artistic intensity and the bartender backs away)
Van Gogh: (mashes the condiments into pulp, adds them to his work, applies dashes of A-1 sauce, Heinz 57, salt and pepper) “FINIS!!!” (he steps back to admire his work)
Hooker: (quizzically) “Very nice, Vincent…but it looks like a chair?”
Van Gogh: (beaming, his ardor for the hooker clear) “Yes, the depth of my love is clear.”
Caravaggio: “Signora, I am finished as well.”
Hooker: (sighs) “It is beautiful!” (Van Gogh frowns, as he realizes that the hooker prefers Caravaggio’s Baroque realism to his own tortured and insane Post-Impressionism)
Van Gogh: “Caravaggio? Can I borrow your knife again?”
Caravaggio: (thinking that Van Gogh will merely cut off his other ear, hands it to the crazy Dutch artist) “Here you go.”
Van Gogh: (unzips his pants, and cuts off his penis. He hands it to the hooker) “For you my love.”
Hooker: (unfazed) “Thanks…I guess.” (turns with Caravaggio to admire her portrait, they begin to kiss passionately, Van Gogh’s member still in the hooker’s hand)
Bartender: “My God! The crazy bastard cut off his own cock!” (Van Gogh lies in the corner, clutching his crotch, focused on the growing pool of blood)
Bosch: (slams the napkin down on the bar) “Finished.”
Bartender: (looking down at Bosch’s drawing) “Pretty nice drawing. Can I have it?”
Bosch: “Sure.” (he hands it to the bartender, then pulls the toothpicks from the olive and Van Gogh’s ear and eats it, chewing, with difficulty, through the cartilaginous appendage)
Bartender: “Thanks a lot.”
Bosch: “No problem…where’s the can in this joint?”
Bartender: (hanging the Flemish master’s sketch on the back bar, nods towards the back) “First door on the right…can’t miss it.”
Bosch: “Thanks.” (heads to the toilet)
Bartender: (Caravaggio and the hooker are doing some seriously heavy petting at their table, Van Gogh lies dead in the corner) “Jeez, you two! Get a room!”


Moral: I don’t know that there is one…or maybe just that art has a tendency to pop up in the most unlikely places.


Originally published:
Issue Seven
March 2001

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