Art: Zoo Story

  • Share
  • Read Later

Somebody is always trying to make a monkey out of modern art. This time it was Peter, 4½, a West African chimpanzee with a penchant for paint, who lives in Sweden's Boras zoo. Newsmen on the Goteborgs-Tidningen, a Goteborg daily, got Peter's 17-year-old keeper to give him a brush and oil paints. Peter took to daubing like a duck to water. He painted all over the floor; he painted all over his keeper; he even painted all over a few canvases. He ate whole tubes of cobalt blue, leading to the speculation that its tart flavor was what inspired him to use it in his work.

The newspaper hoaxers hung Peter's work in a gallery under the brush-name of Pierre Brassau. Last week, art critics of the other Goteborg papers reviewed the show. Wrote one: "Pierre 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." One of the oils sold for $90. But not every monkey-hoax story ends with all the humans fooled. Wrote one of the critics, as the perceptive punch line of a harsh review: "Only an ape could have done this."