NEWS

MONA Curator Kirsha Kaechele Admits Ladies Lounge Picassos Are Fake

"A new exhibition at Mona. Just for ladies…"
Krista Kaechele.Mona

Weeks after Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) moved some of its ‘Picasso’ collection into a female toilet cubicle, artist and curator Kirsha Kaechele admits she painted the art herself.

On Wednesday, Kaechele wrote a blog post sharing that she had been waiting “three years and seven months” to be found out.

“Allow me to explain—I have no choice but to explain,” Kaechele wrote. “From stage right a journalist beckons—she’s onto me! And from stage left, a letter has arrived—from the Picasso Administration. ‘Would you be so kind as to explain …?’ The French are always so impeccably mannered.”

In the blog post, Kaechele hilariously explains the story behind the fake artwork.

When it came to choosing artwork for the former ladies lounge, Kaechele explains that she “knew they had to be ‘Picassos’.”

“I am a tremendous fan of his work and hold it in the highest regard. He’s the great master, the pinnacle of modern art. And yes, his record with women is … intense. Women have been pulling him apart lately, questioning his supremacy. They question my selection of his art. And I like that. I liked that a misogynist would dominate the walls of the Ladies Lounge. Alongside a work by Sidney Nolan (another misogynist) depicting a rape scene, Leda and Swan.

“I knew of a number of Picasso paintings I could borrow from friends, “Kaechele continued, “but none of them were green and I wished for the Lounge to be monochrome. I also had time working against me, not to mention the cost of insuring a Picasso—exorbitant!

“So I made the artworks, quite painstakingly, with my own hands and the (perfectly shellacked) hands of my manicurist’s niece, who is far more competent in pen and ink and thus assisted with the etching.”

Kaechele’s Picassos made headlines in June after a ruling by the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal made the museum shut down their women-only exhibition, the Ladies Lounge.

MONA curator and artist Kirsha Kaechele took to Instagram to reveal that the paintings—which were previously hanging in the museum’s Ladies Lounge—were now hanging inside the female toilets.

“A new exhibition at Mona. Just for ladies…” Kaechele wrote on Instagram alongside a video of the clever new display.

Amusingly, Kaechele also revealed that “we never had female toilets at Mona before, they were all unisex.”

“But then the Ladies Lounge had to close thanks to a lawsuit brought on by a man. And I just didn’t know what to do with all those Picassos…” Kaechele teased.

In April, Tasmania’s Tribunal ruled in favour of NSW man Jason Lau, who accused MONA’s parent company, Moorilla Estate, of discrimination after he was refused entry into Kaechele’s ground-breaking women’s only space, the Ladies Lounge.

Designed by Kaechele to be “rebellious, provocative, exclusive, self-indulgent,” the Ladies Lounge had been a beloved space for the museum’s female guests since 2020.

Richard Grueber, the deputy president of TASCAT, said that under Section 26 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998, the museum’s refusal of Lau’s entry was “direct discrimination.” From there, the lounge was forced to close.

In her post, Kaechele shared the judge’s ruling, which she described as a “fantastic read” and an essay she wrote for the MONA blog about explores “the various exemptions we may employ for continuing to discriminate against men.”

Kaechele hasn’t been deterred by the ruling, and has released a statement announcing that she would be appealing the decision “We need to challenge the law to consider a broader reading of its definitions as they apply to art and the impact it has on the world, as well as the right for conceptual art to make some people (men) uncomfortable.”

In her post Kaechele also confirmed that the museum would try to re-launch the lounge in a different way.

“We’ll get the Lounge open again as a church / school / boutique glamping accomodation / facilities / etc under Section 26 of the Anti Discrimination Act, but in the meantime, enjoy! (ladies) (that applies to ALL ladies, you know when you are and when you are you’re welcome.) 💋💋💋”

Real or fake, this feminist art saga has certainly got our attention.

Related stories