The Only Good Art Joke

There just are no jokes about art that everyone laughs at. There is a long tradition of poking fun at modern art, but there just aren’t any gut laughs, except for this one joke. It’s a sight gag, so I will show you the painting too.

On the Mary Tyler Moore show, Mary has convinced Lou to let Rhoda redecorate his apartment. The refurbishment is done and Lou hates it. Everything is a modern designer’s fantasy in chrome and glass, and the centerpiece is a very fine painting, “I Dreamt I Saw the Number Five in Gold” by Charles Demuth.


Five in Gold by Charles Demuth


This is one of my favorite paintings, it’s in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is considered a primary example of early American Modernism. But Lou hates the painting. Rhoda isn’t around so he yells at Mary, questioning Rhoda’s artistic taste. He accuses Rhoda of being too hasty in selecting his furnishings. He goes right up to the Demuth painting and screams at Mary, “I bet Rhoda had to look through four other paintings before she picked this one!”

One thought on “The Only Good Art Joke”

  1. Hey, I like that painting too – put it on a t-shirt for my girlfriend.
    Inspired by the William Carlos Williams poem … (I forget which one now.)

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