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A Social Experiment Could Destroy a Picasso

When given the opportunity to own a Picasso, most art lovers would jump at the chance – but what if you were offered the opportunity to own 1 / 150,000th of a piece of a Picasso? The popular sarcasm-laden card game Cards Against Humanity (CAH), touted as a “party game for horrible people,” is putting the fate of a signed Picasso print in the hands of its fans.


The subscribers of CAH’s recent Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah promotion will vote on whether to 1) donate Picasso’s Tete de Faune to the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) or 2) laser-cut the artwork so that each subscriber can receive a piece of it.


For the promotion, fans pay $15 and receive eight gifts throughout the month of December. Among the other gifts were socks and an NPR membership. For the seventh gift, their website states:


“We used the money for the seventh night of Hanukkah to purchase Tête de Faune, an original 1962 Picasso. The 150,000 people who subscribed to our Eight Sensible Gifts for Hanukkah now have a chance to vote: should we donate this work to the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, or should we laser-cut it into 150,000 tiny squares and send everyone their own scrap of a real Picasso? Voting opens on Saturday, December 26th and runs through the end of Thursday, December 31st. When voting’s over, we’ll post the results here.”


Art Zealous reached out to CAH, and was told that they have “no further comment” on the matter. We also reached out to the AIC, but have not yet received a reply.


CAH, a Chicago-based company that started as a 2010 Kickstarter, is known for their publicity stunts – at once purchasing an island off of Maine. This new stunt simply seems like another sensationalist attempt at attention-grabbing. While the original Picasso in question is 1 of 50 signed lino-cut prints, only worth about $14,000, the company is still using a work of art as a social experiment in selfishness – determining whether its customers are willing to cut up a work of art just to own a piece of it (even at a diminished value and without the context of the work as a whole), or whether they will value the artwork enough to enrich our museums with it for future generations to appreciate.


Earlier in the promotion, CAH showed its appreciation for culture by stating that it’s NPR membership gift was “one tiny step toward keeping Americans from getting even dumber in a time when public funding for education, arts, and culture is at a historic low.” Instead, this experiment reeks of self-gain.  Acknowledging this possible museum donation as an option seems like dangling meat in front of a circus lion to make it do tricks. It only serves to negate the company’s supposed generosity, if only there hadn’t been a publicity stunt attached to it.


Now, only time will tell. As of the new year, either the AIC will have a new donation or the world will have 150,000 new “art collectors.”