The Disumbrationist School of Art,
In 1925 a Latin teacher and author named Paul Jordan Smith decided to challenge the norms of art critics after they had scornfully rejected his wife’s paintings. His wife had taken up a hobby as an amateur painting, but made the mistake of submitting her work to professional art critics. The critics tore her apart, sending her home crying. After the incident, Smith thought about what made modern art great art, and concocted a weird scheme of revenge.
Taking his wife’s painting set, he quickly put together a painting he called “Exaltation”. He purposely made the painting weird and bizarre while using the strangest themes and color schemes. After drawing a Pacific native woman holding a starfish, his friends commented that the starfish looked like a banana. Thus Smith renamed the painting, “Exaltation, We Have No Bananas”. After taking the persona of a Russian artist named “ Pavel Jerdanowitch”, Smith showcased his painting in gallery’s all over New York City. His painting received high praise, even from critics who likened his work to that of famous artist Gauguin. Paul, under the guise of Jerdanowitch, claimed that he had invented a new style of art called “The Disumbrationist School”. He also claimed that the painting represented the breaking of the shackles of womanhood. The woman, he said, had just killed a missionary (if you look closely you can see the missionary’s skull sitting on a pole behind her). In addition, she had just taken a bite of a banana, even though women were forbidden to eat bananas on her island. She was waving the banana above her head to represent her new-found freedom.
The critics swallowed it all up, and before he knew it Jerdanovitch became a nationwide figure in the art world. After receiving numerous more requests, Smith created more paintings, such as the painting below entitled “Adoration”.
and the ever popular “Gination”,
Finally in 1927 Smith decided it was time to let the cat out of the bag. He admitted that there was no “Pavel Jerdanovitch”, and that he had no training as artist, nor had he in fact ever painted before creating “Exhaltation”. He was a fraud, and the critics had gulped up every bit of humbuggery that he shoved in front of them. While Paul Jordan Smith was no artist, he certainly made one helluva con artist.
Since 2006 there has been held a yearly painting contest in memory of Paul Jordan-Smith and the disumbrationist school of arts: the “International Pavel Jerdanowitch Painting contest”.