Brow Beat

Cards Against Humanity Is Threatening to Destroy a 1962 Picasso. That’s Not Going Far Enough.

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon.
If Cards Against Humanity were serious, they’d slice up a real Picasso.

Photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

The makers of Cards Against Humanity, the smash-hit way to monetize people’s desire to laugh about rape, have a new promotional thought-experiment:

We used the money for the seventh night of Hanukkah to purchase Tête de Faune, an original 1962 Picasso. The 150,000 people who subscribed to our Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah now have a chance to vote: should we donate this work to the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, or should we laser-cut it into 150,000 tiny squares and send everyone their own scrap of a real Picasso?

The idea, I guess, is that some people will be scandalized by the idea of “an original 1962 Picasso” being destroyed (“This is an outrage! Donate it to the Art Institute,” reads one of the ballot options), just as some people are scandalized by the idea of randomly combining phrases like “date rape” and “a midget shitting into a bucket” in a party game, while other people—people who find themselves unable to provoke a more complicated reaction in their fellow humans than shock and offense but who still need to be reassured that they exist, that they’re not disembodied wraiths passing unnoticed across the surface of the world—will view that potential outrage as an opportunity for a self-soothing act of assertive hostility.

But unlike a racist card game, this chop-up-a-Picasso stunt isn’t worth getting upset about. Tête de Faune is “an original 1962 Picasso” print—one of a run of 50 signed lino-cuts. The Art Institute of Chicago would stick it in the basement and barely send you a thank-you note.

If you want to annoy people by destroying a work of art, don’t pick one of a set of 50 prints from the waning years of the most prolific artist of all time. Cut up the Demoiselles d’Avignon or something! Go big or go home!