Whether it's an honest complaint, a joke, an attempt to start a discussion about larger issues, or some combination, one thing is clear: Max Geller's protest of French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir's work is gaining traction. After a petition to remove Renoir's work "from our national museums" on the White House's website in April failed to gain more than 15 votes and was thus archived for lack of support, Geller's anti-Renoir Instagram account now has more than 4,000 followers and his eight-or-so-person protest outside Boston's Museum of Fine Arts on Monday is getting some publicity—much to the dismay of one Genevieve Renoir, who says she is the painter’s great-great-granddaughter, reports the Guardian. She even took to Instagram to contest Geller's assertion that Renoir sucks at painting, saying with a smattering of emojis that the free market has spoken.
On its face, the movement is about aesthetics. One sign at the protest claiming "aesthetic terrorism" said as much. "If you took his word for it, trees would be a collection of disgusting, green squiggly lines and eyeballs would be jet black as if they were colored by sharpies," Geller tells NPR in its three-question interview. "In real life trees are beautiful; Renoir just sucks at painting." But WBUR reports that the self-described political organizer is doing this as more of a hobby to "blow off steam" and that he means it as a joke, albeit "a pointed one." In using phrases such as "God hates Renoir," "empty calories, and "infantile green scribbles that look like crayon," Geller is also posing provocative questions about who sets a museum's standards for what is displayed and what the public should find beautiful or compelling. (See how this Renoir went for just $7.)