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Monkey Art Fools Expert
Status: Art hoax
Dr. Katja Schneider, director of the State Art Museum in Moritzburg, has been embarrassed by mistaking a painting done by Banghi, a 31-year-old female chimp, for a work by the late Ernst Wilhelm Nay:

The director of the State Art Museum of Moritzburg in Saxony-Anhalt, Katja Schneider, suggested the painting was by the Guggenheim Prize-winning artist Ernst Wilhelm Nay. "It looks like an Ernst Wilhelm Nay. He was famous for using such blotches of colour," Dr Schneider confidently asserted. The canvas was actually the work of Banghi, a 31-year-old female chimp at the local zoo. While Banghi likes to paint, she is not able to build up much of a body of work as her mate Satscho generally destroys her paintings before they can get to the gallery. But this one survived long enough to give Dr Schneider a red face. "I did think it looked a bit rushed," she told Bild newspaper.

Of course, this isn't the first time monkey art has fooled an expert. The classic case occurred in 1964 when newsmen from Sweden's Göteborgs-Tidningen obtained some paintings by Peter, a four-year-old chimp at the Boras zoo. They hung the paintings in a gallery, claiming they were the work of avant-garde artist Pierre Brassau. And soon the works were drawing critical acclaim. One critic wrote: "Brassau paints with powerful strokes, but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with furious fastidiousness. Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer."

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find examples posted online of the art of either Banghi or Pierre Brassau.
Categories: Animals, Art
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 20, 2005
Comments (18)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
At the site belonging to the artist who let Peter/Pierre paint, there's a small b&w photo showing the chimp in action, which also gives a very good idea of what his paintings looked like:
http://www.funkegard.se/#konstnaren.html
Posted by UF  on  Tue Dec 20, 2005  at  04:32 AM
I have checked the Bild website and I cannnot find any reference to Moritzburg or Banghi. In Google, the only references are themselves references to the rumor.

Does any one know for sure that this is for real, before I forward it to my friends?
Posted by Enrique  in  Brussels  on  Tue Dec 20, 2005  at  05:44 AM
I don't understand what all the hoopla is about concerning contemporary artists, frauds, and the like. After all, for the most part, aren't they all a bunch of liberal, politically correct whackos who believe in evolution in the first place. They should be honored by the fact that somebody has actually made the tie to their roots rather than insulting them... All they did is credit the wrong monkey with the work...
Posted by Christopher in Joplin, Missouri  in  Joplin, Mo  on  Tue Dec 20, 2005  at  06:35 AM
^^^ Please do like King Kong and jump.
Posted by Craig  on  Tue Dec 20, 2005  at  08:08 AM
As an expert in both contemporary and monkey art, I take exception with Christopher's comments. Although quite similar, there are many stylistic differentions between the two- color, expression- but the biggest difference is in the Ape's use of their own feces in each piece.
Posted by booch  on  Tue Dec 20, 2005  at  12:00 PM
Enrique, I also checked the Bild website and couldn't find anything. I assumed that was because they didn't have the article online. But a lot of other papers have referred to the article, so it would seem that Bild must have printed something. And the details are pretty specific.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Dec 20, 2005  at  05:49 PM
my question is: why do art critics exist in the first place? and who the hell is paying for these people?
Posted by Tom  on  Wed Dec 21, 2005  at  04:13 AM
Here is a (norwegian) version of the same article, with a reproduction of the art in question: http://pub.tv2.no/nettavisen/skraablikk/article515315
Posted by Bonny  on  Wed Dec 21, 2005  at  07:52 AM
"All they did is credit the wrong monkey with the work."

Rofl! Now I gotta wipe the coffee that erupted outta my nose in laughter off the fpd - or maybe not, it could be art...
Posted by SpiderLee  on  Thu Dec 22, 2005  at  09:48 PM
You have to admit, monkeys are freakin' cool.
Posted by Le Homer  on  Fri Dec 30, 2005  at  10:05 AM
cool smile Action painting is about capturing something produced by the subconscious. I don't think that it was ever intended to fool anyone, is it art? Yes, for what it is.
Posted by patrick  in  Luton  on  Fri Jan 20, 2006  at  08:16 AM
Please don't place whacko liberals in the
same category as evolutionists. it's insulting.
besides just because one believes in evolution does not mean that they can't believe in god as well.
but i do agree that most contemporary abstract "art" looks like a primate flung paint at it. and then snobbish critics say how profound it is and it exemplifies the state of modern man..blah blah blah, i went to berkeley...i only wear hemp clothes! i itch constantly, but i'm saving animals and the rainforest and i'm better than you!guns don't kill people irritating hippies do with their incessant nagging!
Posted by cate  in  my high horse!! hahahhaa!!  on  Sat Jan 21, 2006  at  03:46 AM
See if you can tell an abstractionist from a monkey:

An artist or an ape? A quiz.
Posted by Mikhail Simkin  on  Mon Jan 23, 2006  at  09:00 PM
Monkeys paint in sign language. They are probably writing the whole time: You're an Idiot for Liking This. LOL
Posted by PleaseDeleteAccount  on  Sun Feb 05, 2006  at  04:57 AM
God created man, and God created monkey. He made us in His image. Man shouldn't lower his standards to that of a primate.
The question: "Is it art?" No, if a monkey can pull it off, it shouldn't be praised by anyone.
Realizing that evolution does exist, the 'e' SHOULD stay lower cased until an intermediate form is found; there needs to be proof.
Posted by scott  on  Fri May 05, 2006  at  08:52 PM
I kind of wish this is true,it would be way cool if an art critic was painted into a corner like this cool grin I like art but these people have a way of expressing themselves that seem to serve no other purpose than to impress god-knows-who.
Posted by nitedrive  in  sweden  on  Tue Aug 01, 2006  at  03:07 AM
BBC: Monday, 20 June, 2005
Bidders go ape for chimpanzee art
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4109664.stm
Three abstract paintings by a chimpanzee named Congo have been sold for
Posted by beng  in  uk  on  Fri Mar 07, 2008  at  12:26 AM
whatever people think, animal art has does have one good use for raising money for wildlife projects.

to bad some idiots have to try and exploit the apes
Posted by klee  on  Wed Nov 05, 2008  at  12:13 AM
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