Helen Frankenthaler with Gum

A 12 year old boy recently decided to discard his gum by sticking it to a painting by the New York abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler.
“The Bay” painting has been left with a small stain on it, but the assistant curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Becky Hart says it will be fine.

Helen Frankenthaler paintingBeing an expressive abstract work probably makes the issue less than front page news. It would of been different if it was stuck on the nose of Mona Lisa or an important figurative work. I remember an art teacher talking about an important painting that had a sticker put on it, and went on to damage it badly, but really can’t recall what painting it was!
12-year-old sticks gum onto $1.5M painting
“Holly Academy director Julie Kildee said the boy had been suspended from the charter school and says his parents also have disciplined him.
“He is only 12 and I don’t think he understood the ramifications of what he did before it happened, but he certainly understands the severity of it now,” said Kildee.” USA Today

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Anonymous says:

    It was probably an improvement.

  2. I first thought that the blue blob was the piece of chewing gum, but it is actually the painting. So the gum can’t be seen on the image shown of the work.
    It sounds like it made difference at all to the work.. but it’s a good way to make the news and get publicity for the painting and the museum.

  3. Rich Whyte says:

    If Frankenthaler had attached the gum the value of the piece probably would have increased by another 500K or so and the critics would have declared their delight, in harmony, of the epiphany realised through the auspices of her vision demonstrating the relativity of the cavity of the human mouth (and all its workings) to the geography occupied by a Superior-like ‘bay’! Indeed, I’m surprised you didn’t lynch the poor 12 year old for his ignorance in digesting the concept of ‘trickle-up’ economics in the artworld and its significance to the entire global market-place. Now I understand why Picasso much preferred to give children the run of his studio rather than his peers. The overkill of expelling him from school, as opposed to engaging him in something like an art-preservation event at the gallery itself in an effort to broaden his education (rather than remove it), speaks volumes about his prosecutors as well as their inabilities to enhance tolerance and/or democracy beyond the confines of their vanities. I can’t help but think that Helen’s take on the whole affair might well be considerably more just that the custodians and estimators of her value and values!!

  4. Vincent says:

    I remember seeing a work that used gum once. It smelled and it was ugly, but it was interesting for about two minutes.
    It was about a hundred pieces of gum, chewed up and stuck to a canvas in a geometric kind of way.
    Another look on the whole thing, is to encourage people to stick their gum to a work.
    It’s all silliness, really.
    I sometimes wish art could be normal.. whatever that is.

  5. What color was the gum, and where was it placed?

  6. I’m not sure about the position or color, but there’s a little bit more about the incident with the Helen Frankenthaler painting here

  7. Anonymous says:

    yea um….i realli think it should be okk for the boy not that wat he did wasn’t wrong lol…yee im using this article later ~ezz

  8. The thing might look better with gum on it. I can’t believe this is worth > 1 mill. I must have millions worth laying around my house from my kids because I’ve seen similar work. I guess I’ll never have an eye for art.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To Rich Whyte -
    no shortage of idiots like you in the world….

  10. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t a 12 year-old boy know not to stick gum on the wall?

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