The Museum of Awful Gifts
2004 Collection Catalog

By Museum Curator, Jenniforensic

Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887-1968)
The Most Dreadful Present of All, 1967
Mixed Media
GoG2004.1
Before his death, the Master of the Readymade gave us yet another intellectual art piece that has critics arguing over its deeper meaning to this day. Is it a comment on gift giving as a whole or more of a critique of American society as a whole?

Robert Motherwell (American, 1915-1991)
Elegy to Yule No. 13, 1988
Cheap acrylic on wood
GoG2004.2
Note the delicate use of craft paint that skillfully evokes the spirit of the season.

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Aunt Marilyn’s Holiday Cheer, 1985
Mixed media
GoG2004.3
Even pop icons enjoy the spirit of the holidays. This piece demonstrates a sense of playfulness with the use of vibrant colors that help make the season bright.

Robert Longo (American, 1953 - )
Nemo, 2003
Plastic
GoG2004.4
Longo’s contorted figures have caused many a critic to wonder what was happening at the time a piece was created, and this is no exception. Was it the fruitcake, or maybe the chartreuse hand-knit sweater from Grandma that caused this?

Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967)
There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays, 1958
Oil on canvas
GoG2004.5
Hopper’s sense of realism and attention to detail bring us a charming gift for someone who appreciates realism and detail.

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973)
Yule, 1924
Mixed media
GoG2004.6
This masterpiece of a gift demonstrates the glory of the season. Maybe. We’re not really sure, but that’s what we think given the title.

Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990)
Yet Another Very Special Holiday, 1988
Acrylic on wood
GoG2004.7
The artist’s work has graced the covers of many a holiday music album, communicating a cartoonish sense of joy and wonder.

Alexander Calder (American, 1870-1945)
Joyeaux Noel, 1940
Steel
GoG2004.8
In this piece, Calder skillfully weds the wonder of motion with the beauty of giving. In fact, it often seems as though the motion is directed … toward the re-gifting pile.

Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956)
Untitled, 1949
Mixed media
GoG2004.9
The artist’s bold usage of red and green give many people the impression that this is in fact a piece intended to celebrate the holiday.

Leonardo daVinci (Italian, 1452-1519)
Her Gift, c. 1503
Wood
GoG2004.10
The smile on the lips of daVinci’s Mona Lisa has intrigued scholars the world over for centuries. With the unveiling of this amazing piece, which has survived intact, we understand that she may have been attempting to stifle a fit of incredulous laughter.

Salvador Dali (Spanish, 1904-1989)
Descent into Holiday Madness, 1930
Mixed media
GoG2004.11
This piece, perhaps the least well-known of Dali’s works, must be kept in a carefully-controlled environment, lest it begin to melt.

Jasper Johns (American, 1930 - )
Target with Yule in Mind, 1999
Encaustic
GoG2004.12
One of his little-known Target works, Johns takes aim at the frenzied gift-giving of the holiday season in ironic style.

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
Sun King, 1970
Mixed Media
GoG2004.13
Critics are spellbound by the beauty of this work, but dumbfounded by its possibilities.

Frederic Remington (American, 1861 – 1909)
A Yule Without Horses, 1889
Bronze
GoG2004.14
The art world was stunned with the first discovery of this bronze, one of the precious few that do not involve horses or any stereotypical Western figures.

Donatello (Italian, 1386-1466)
Untitled, 1465
Bronze
GoG2004.15
Although David caused a significant uproar in his time, it was nothing compared to the uproar caused by this gift.

Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (American, 1880-1980)
Dance For Your Yule Gift, You Little Brat!, 1969
Mixed media
GoG2004.16
Toward the end of her life, Frishmuth seems to have gotten slightly fed-up with the gift-giving surrounding the vaunted "holiday season." This piece was made to be placed before one of her lithe dancing girls in bronze, who seemed to demonstrate a rather fearful and uncertain expression.

Dale Chihuly (American, 1941 - )
Don’t Break the Fragile Gift, 2004
Glass
GoG2004.17
Chihuly’s piece is aptly titled for the season.

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917 )
What’s Appropriate for the Holiday?, 1900
Mixed media
GoG2004.18a-c
An obscure part of Rodin’s unfinished Gates of Hell series, this trio of small works is often seen as a follow-up to his well-known Thinker.

Norman Rockwell (American, 1894-1978)
Happy Holidays, 1960
Oil on canvas
GoG2004.19
Here we see the darker and somewhat less artistic side of Rockwell, which has been kept tightly under wraps for many years lest it tarnish this great American illustrator’s reputation.

Edward Kienholz (American, 1927-1994)
Tribute to an Awful Gift, 1993
Mixed media
GoG2004.20
Kienholz assembled this piece shortly before burning all of his holiday presents.

Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925 - )
Yule Be In Pieces, 2000
Santa suit, assorted mannequin parts, found objects
GoG2004.21
Rauschenberg’s scathing commentary on the commercialism of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and so forth is clear in this piece.

Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990)
Can’t You Feel The Special-ness?, 1980
Acrylic on wood
GoG2004.22
Another unique work by Haring to celebrate the season. A Very Special Season.

Yoko Ono (Japanese, 1933 - )
My Heart is an Empty Wasteland That Can Only Be Filled With Your Money, 2004
Mixed media
GoG2004.23
Ono, who has come out as highly opinionated on matters of public interest, could not let another holiday go by without issuing a manifesto about it.

Georgia O’Keeffe (American, 1887-1986)
On a Poinsettia, 1980
Acrylic
GoG2004.24
Well known for her floral portraits, O’Keeffe took rare breaks during the holiday season to celebrate. Critics have found it fascinating that, even so, it all goes back to … flowers. Really.

Giovanni Bernini (Italian, 1598-1680)
To Celebrate the Birth of Not-A-Pagan-Sun-God, 1666
Marble
GoG2004.25
Even Bernini, many of whose works reside at Saint Peter’s Basilica, could not escape the joy of the holiday season.

Frederick William MacMonnies (American, 1863-1937)
Untitled Gift, 1920
Mixed media
GoG2004.26
MacMonnies, well known for his sculptural figures, often embellished his works around the holiday season. Unfortunately, few of these embellishments survived; this piece is a true rarity.

J. Seward Johnson, Jr. (American, 1930 - )
Yules Past, 1998
Bronze, paint
GoG2004.27
Johnson enjoys a reputation for creating highly realistic sculptures of people in various occupations and stages of undress. Our curator enjoys a reputation for hating him.

Grandma Moses (American, 1860-1961)
Holiday Treat, 1950
Oil on canvas
GoG2004.28
The delightful tone set forth by Grandma Moses in this work has caused many a critic to exclaim, "This ain’t your Grandma’s fruitcake!"

Helen Frankenthaler, (American, 1928 - )
Ode to a Gift, 1979
Mixed media
GoG2004.29
Uncharacteristically, Frankenthaler’s stains take on a distinctly festive demeanor.

Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872-1944)
Boxed In During December, 1932
Acrylic
GoG2004.30
Critics seem to have concluded one thing regarding this particular work: they are entirely unclear as to its meaning.

Maxfield Parrish (American, 1870-1966)
Oh, Another Yule, 1964
Oil on paper
GoG2004.31
Although criticized as being somewhat staid, Parrish’s work seems to bring a fresh look to the Yule season.

Peter Max (German/American, 1937- )
Whee! Happy Yule!, n.d.
Mixed media
GoG2004.32
Max’s energy-filled flight of Yule fantasy takes off full speed ahead! All aboard! And bring your shades!

Artist Unknown
The Awfullest of All the Awful Gifts, 2004
Mixed media
GoG2004.33
Critics and museum staff alike were confounded when this work was found in a holding closet in the vaults of the Smithsonian Institution. Appropriately, it was commended to the Museum of Awful Gifts for further study.


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