Cards Against Humanity Is Letting Fans Destroy a Genuine Work by Pablo Picasso

What will be its fate?

Pablo Picasso, Tête de Faune (Head of a Faun), 1962. Photo: courtesy Koller Auktion.
Pablo Picasso, Tête de Faune (Head of a Faun), 1962. Photo: courtesy Koller Auktion.

It’s a real “splitting the baby” dilemma, and there’s no King Solomon to weigh in on the outcome. The makers of the popular and irreverent Cards Against Humanity party game have purchased a Pablo Picasso artwork, and 150,000 people must decide whether to donate it to the Art Institute of Chicago, or to cut it up, so that each gets a sliver of the print.

The print is one of the presents being distributed as part of the game’s “Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah,” in which fans pay $15 and receive eight gifts throughout the month of December.

The other gifts have included three nights’ worth of socks, an investment in the Cards Against Humanity US Treasury Inflation Protected Securities Fund, NPR memberships, and a week’s paid vacation for workers at the company’s print shop in China.

Last year, the big present was that everyone got one square foot of an island in Maine.

Pablo Picasso, <em>Tête de Faune (Head of a Faun)</em>, 1962, getting laser scanned. Photo: courtesy Cards Against Humanity.

Pablo Picasso, Tête de Faune (Head of a Faun), 1962, getting laser scanned.
Photo: courtesy Cards Against Humanity.

Now, for night seven, the fate of Tête de Faune (Head of a Faun), a 1962 linocut print worth about $14,000, based on its last appearance at auction, lies in the hands of the 150,000 gift recipients. They can either vote “cut it up and send me a 1.5mm scrap of a real Picasso” or “This is an outrage! Donate it to the Art Institute.”

If it sways your opinion at all, know that Tête de Faune is just one of an edition of 50, so this isn’t the same as pulling a Tony Shafrazi and spray-painting Picasso’s 25-foot masterpiece Guernica. Nevertheless, shredding a honest-to-god Picasso at the whim of a card game maker seems legitimately terrible.

In a post on CNET, participant Danny Gallagher admitted he was torn by the decision. “As a culture appreciator, I don’t want to see a work of art by one of the world’s greatest artists sliced up like a deep-dish pizza. However, as someone who paid for eight Hanukkah gifts from Cards Against Humanity, I also want to receive all eight gifts,” he wrote. “And don’t give me that crud about how knowing that you saved a priceless work of art is its own reward.”

Art gets destroyed all the time, but usually it’s an accident, like that clumsy twelve-year-old who fell onto a painting. Or it is intentional, like when Miami artist Maximo Caminero smashed one of Ai Weiwei‘s vases to protest the lack of exhibition opportunities for local artists at the Pérez Art Museum.

Cutting up Tête de Faune would be more akin to an act of malicious mischief, like punching a Claude Monet or destroying a Dale Chihuly—although Cards Against Humanity is calling it “a social experiment” in a package mailed to recipients.

Voting will be open from December 26–31.


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