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Poor thing, you thought Art History was boring? NOT IN OUR CLASS. The Prompt staff rates some of the most revered and studied masterpieces of the past few centuries, ranking just how much we’d want to dip our paintbrushes in these classic works of art. With apologies to every artist.

Meg Kearns’s List:

10. Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

It’s right there in the title: this woman is weeping, she is not in the mood. I will happily pass her a box of tissues and offer a consoling pat on the arm before respecting her privacy and letting her pull herself together. Cool hat, though.

9. The Scream by Edvard Munch

Look, it’s 2018, I get it. But I’m doing enough screaming into the eternal void on my own lately, this just seems like too much to take on, you know?

8. American Gothic by Grant Wood

This couple is into some weird shit, and I’d rather not be murdered in their creepy farm attic right now, thank you.

7. Whistler’s Mother by James Abbott McNeill Whistler

I’m sure Whistler’s mom was a lovely lady, but in this rendering she also looks like a lady who absolutely does not want to be bothered right now. Let’s move along.

6. Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch

I am fairly certain my first introduction to Venus de Milo was my mom explaining the line in the AC/DC song “Touch Too Much”: She had the face of an angel / Smiling with sin / A body of Venus with arms. Not that I asked for an explanation, mind you, my mom just always laughed at how ridiculous this lyric is and for some reason decided to share it with me one day. Classic rock: not really for kids, when you think about it! Anyway, sure, I guess if Venus is good enough for Angus and Malcolm, she’s good enough for me.

5. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Mona Lisa seems pretty chill and approachable, but also a little annoyed at how long this whole portrait situation is taking, or maybe just with life in general. This is an extremely relatable mood.

4. Girl with the Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

This is a strikingly lovely painting that is forever connected in my mind to the extremely 2003 film of the same name, which I have never seen, and yet I cannot seem to forget the advertising. The titular girl in that film is played by Scarlett Johansson who, while problematic, is very talented and very attractive. So I guess earring girl can get it.

3. David by Michelangelo

Conjure, for a moment, some adjectives you might have seen used to describe, in any number of celebrity profiles, any number of famous men named, for example, Chris. In describing—for journalism purposes—their incredibly toned physiques, you are more likely than not going to encounter at least a passing phrase about any of their “well-sculpted” body parts, be it abs or arms or chin.

Well friends, my dude David here is literally sculpted. Some might say perfectly so—not too beefy or too scrawny, but juuust right. But not only is this dude sculpted, he’s also tall, demonstrating strong concentration, and ready to fight a fucking giant to defend your honor. Or, you know, the Israelites, or something. Sorry, I got lost in those unblinking marble eyes for a second.

(Pro-tip: do not look at weird internet images imagining what David would like in real life?? But DO take time to appreciate the amazing details of the carving.)

2. Son of Man by René Magritte

To be completely honest, I was ready to put this as my number one. I find Magritte’s work amusing, and I had a quippy joke lined up about clothes making the man, or about how in the Year of Our Lord 2018, a nice apple is probably a better bet than a man’s face anyway. But then I read the following sentence on the Wikipedia for this painting: Another subtle feature is that the man’s left arm appears to bend backwards at the elbow. So now this is all I can see, and I do not care for that shit at all! You got me again, surrealism! No thanks!

1. Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh

This self-portrait is clearly the front-runner here. Look at all these boxes it checks: piercing blue eyes that eerily match Vincent’s jacket and his surroundings, killer cheekbones emphasized by the best highlighting job this side of a YouTube beauty blogger, fiery ginger hair and beard. Throw in an extremely heavy dose of tortured artist melancholia, and I’m sold. I’m not saying that this is my type… but it’s not not my type, you know?

Thomas Viehe’s List:

10. Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh

Ever get that look from someone that says “Imma bite your ear off the first chance I get?” That’s what they call a nonverbal cue. I do not have consent.

9. The Scream by Edvard Munch

A nonverbal cue is unnecessary for this encounter. The title describes what happens when men force themselves on someone. Even if the kaleidoscope haze and the dark figure on the bridge get me excited… I do not have consent.

8. Girl with the Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

Her eyes glow with surprise. Startled. Unsure. Afraid. I approached her from behind, not realizing that she’s probably too young for this anyway. I do not have consent.

7. Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch

She’s of age, sure, but she doesn’t have arms and is giving me the nonverbal cue that says, “Don’t you fuck with me, bitch.” I do not have consent.

6. Whistler’s Mother by James Abbott McNeill Whistler

She doesn’t even look at me when I approach. She has too many clothes on for this to be a date. Is she into me? No. I don’t know. It’s too early still. I do not have consent.

5. Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

She’s crying, so not in a great state. Would she see me through the smoke from burning Barcelona? Maybe that blue near her mouth is forming a heart? Is that consent? When in doubt, ask. Until then: I do not have consent.

4. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Everyone says she’s smiling at me. But I don’t see it. I think she’s asking, “Can I go now?” or “Are you finished?” but neither of us are naked yet. That can’t be good. I don’t even need to ask. I already know. I do not have consent.

3. David by Michelangelo

Until now, I haven’t had to think about the act itself. What would it be like to put my penis through oil on canvas or into hard marble? Sounds painful. But now I’ve caught David’s eyes. “The David.” Well, excuse me! He’s looking to make sure I know that he’s armed and dangerous. Great. Thanks for the reminder. I do not have consent.

2. Son of Man by René Magritte

Acting coy, are we? Playing hard to get? Well, I can’t really do anything until you move that apple, can I? So you’re not going to move it? Let me reference my Idiot’s Guide to Consensual Sex. Oh, here it is. “If subject refuses to show them their face and you have not requested consent, then you do not have consent.” I do not have consent.

1. American Gothic by Grant Wood

Her eyes dart to the pitchfork. Three prongs. Is she suggesting a threesome? The man peers down at me like he has one last request. Would their quaint home have room enough for us? I need to ask them before I make a move. I’m sure of that now. Even if it means a pitchfork in my belly. I need to ask for consent.

“Hey buddy, whaddya say to me guest-starring in your wet dream?”

Silence. Being clever with words is never smart when talking to salt of the earth folks. I try again.

“Hey! You want to?” I thrust my pelvis out. Gestures are good communication tools. “You know. “ I point just in case he doesn’t. “You. Me. Your lady friend.” I throw in the verb in case the idea is still eluding him. “Fucking?”

The thrust is fast, before I knew it was coming. The lady is more startled than me, like she hadn’t known the violence her husband is capable of. Lady, do you even live in America? Guess I know now. I do not have consent.

Zach Straus’s List:

10. Girl with the Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer

Yes, okay, sure, sometimes, you can look at a kid, and in a completely, completely objective way, understand that said kid is going to be a very attractive adult, but in the process, you still recognize they are 100 percent currently a kid, so that’s where the thought exercise ends, or at least it does for me, but if it doesn’t for you, oh good lord, if it doesn’t, and you’re making any kind of calculations in anticipation of a 1- to 4- to 7-year wait, you are a monster, a straight up monster, because planting a kindergarten isn’t an acceptable dating strategy.

9. The Scream by Edvard Munch


8. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Mona Lisa is an OG-slow-boil Kardashian. She’s famous, but like, for what (other than being the subject of a piece of art)? We all seem to care about her and want to be around her, but mostly because other people seem to care about her and want to be around her. Hard NOPE. Plus, I was just in the Louvre and (okay, I wasn’t technically in the Louvre, but I was outside of it, and saw friends pictures from inside, which basically counts toward my point), process monster that I am, Zach ain’t waiting in a nearly infinite, ill-defined line to get busy with some oily chick that looks like Vigo from Ghostbusters 2 while a bunch of sweat-stained Chinese and American tourists take commemorative fuck-selfies of the act and post them on Snapchat.

7. David by Michelangelo

This is a double-edged no-sword.

First, David fits the bill of That Guy We’re All Supposed to Be Into, but he’s so clear-cutly, blandly attractive the concept is immediately boring to me (think: Brendan Fraser back when people were vibing on Brendan Fraser, which we may all pretend wasn’t a thing, but was totally a thing, and I refuse to let it go).

Second, he’s like 17 feet tall, so functionally, we’d be stuck with a checklist of undesirable acts, like 1) flossing his tooth-gap with my regular human penis, 2) crowdfunding the equipment needed to launch a spelunking expedition into his unexplored cave system of butthole, 3) being monumentally ruined for any future penetrative acts by his smooth marble megadong, or 4) something even worse that I’m missing.

6. Whistler’s Mother by James Abbott McNeill Whistler

I guess I’m not opposed to it, as she looks lonely, and I reject the concept that what we colloquially refer to as a pity-fuck is a shitty thing, having been on both ends of the arrangement at times in my life.

My major worry is that I’d start singing Fountains of Wayne during the act, which would lead to me owing her an explanation about a host of things that have happened between 1871 and 2018, including a cursory overview of major trends in popular musical styles, a brief and likely inaccurate scientific explanation of how music is recorded and reproduced, plus my inexpert analysis on the growing acceptance of sexual content in media/everyday life.

5. Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch

Attraction is often unexplainable. So are associations. I honestly can’t tell you why, but I get a decent vibe off this chick and it’s very Outback Steakhouse-y. No arms, just right. 100 percent into it.

4. American Gothic by Grant Wood


3. Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh

Sometime 2011: Game of Thrones airs on HBO.

Spring 2013: I watch an episode of Game of Thrones.

Summer 2015: I go on record as saying I would fuck Kristofer Hivju (the guy who plays Tormund), mostly based on his crazy eyes.

Fall 2016: A friend at a bar says she wants to write a movie about van Gogh and another friend suggests Kristofer Hivju should play the title role. I nod a lot.

Fall 2016 – Today: I occasionally think about how very much I am into said movie.

Today: I rank van Gogh third on my list, based mostly on how I can’t see van Gogh’s face without also picturing elements of Hivju’s face, mostly his crazy eyes.

2. Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

In Cubism, perspective is destroyed and smashed flat, which I’m 99 percent sure means any previous limitations imposed by limbs and tendons and inflexibility no longer apply. If that doesn’t appeal to you, I don’t know how to make you a better person, and I’m gonna be too busy flat-plane-fucking the shit out of this formerly-sad-lady from all angles into all orifices to worry about your need for personal growth.

1. Son of Man by René Magritte


MY PARTNER: That was an enjoyable Halloween Party, which is something I am saying to establish context.

ME: Yes, I agree with you on all points, as this narrative needs to be fairly expositional in order to hold reader attention.

MY PARTNER: Very true. Referencing tonight, in case you were not aware, I like to have fun at events with you.

ME: As do I. Thank you for wearing this costume based on a painting by Magritte!

MY PARTNER: You are welcome. By the way, I find you to be very attractive, both in general and at this specific moment. I would like to continue this positive energy by having manly relations.

ME: Yes! We have been together for years but still enjoy each others’ company socially and physically!

MY PARTNER: This is how consent works, which is important! Please permit me a moment to take off this wonderful costume you suggested.

ME: oh fuck no you don’t, keep that suit on, you look really sexy in it and this is kinky in a way i both understand and don’t, this vibe that’s going on with all the contrasts of formal and dirty, highbrow and lowbrow, and i plan on fully leaning into it, and i should stop typing shit here because this is getting real and probably too personal, but i’m a complex person, and i love that we have managed to keep this sense of adventure and playfulness in our sex life, so keep that goddamn costume on and that goddamn apple in front of your goddamn face, because this isn’t a living room anymore, it’s a classy anonymous fruit gloryhole and probably take that book about the Kennedys off the ottoman so it doesn’t dig into my back

The Prompt Staff

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