Video Game Offers Chance to Punch a Claude Monet Painting

Andrew Shannon, the man hilariously described as a “thug” for punching a hole in a Claude Monet painting at the National Gallery of Ireland, has, in addition to his reported six year prison sentence, done something even more amazing: make the internet laugh. “Punch a Monet,” created by Tom Galle, Dries Depoorter, and Eiji Muroichi, is a browser-based game that places you in Shannon’s shoes, allowing you to take out your anger on art history with a few swift swings at the canvas.

According to Galle, its origins were simple. “[The user] would be able to walk up to the super expensive Monet painting and start punching it until it eventually is completely destroyed,” he wrote in an e-mail. “It is just built for fun, we do not in any way want to encourage destroying valuable objects of art (of course).”

Last week, the 49-year old Shannon, who told the authorities after his arrest that he punched the painting as a form of protest against the state, later in court claimed he was ill and simply fell into the painting. After 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury found him guilty. Shannon was sentenced to five years in prison as well as the much more vicious punishment of being banned from any gallery or museum for 15 years after his release.

The response to “Punch a Monet” has been immediate and unexpected. “The internet’s reaction has been crazy and overwhelming,” Galle wrote. “I think people really see the humor behind it, but I also had a couple of negative reactions of people that felt like we were encouraging the destruction of valuable art.” Even so, Galle knows a few virtual cracks at something so expensive can be cathartic. “There’s something inside all of us that wants to break the rules, cross the line, and go a little crazy.”

— Craig Hubert (@craighubert)

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