5 Paintings That Are Just Too Awkward

Last week my daughter (who loves hugs about as much as a porcupine) got a game called Awkward Hugs. It is super funny. Two people are locked into a hug together (literally- players wear belts with connecting locks.) and can’t be unlocked until they answer three Yes/No questions the same. For every differing answer there is a consequence, like “Give your hug partner a nose kiss.” I was falling off the kitchen bar stool laughing at my daughters. Here they are:

I used to think I loved awkward things. My philosophy was that awkward equals hilarity. Then I tried watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise and it was TOO awkward for my eyeballs. My sweet spot for awkwardness lies somewhere between Matt Lauer’s interview with Tom Cruise (too awkward!) and super weird engagement pictures (I can’t get enough!) While artists can be super cool and edgy with their hot talent and their tendency to get so wrapped up in a project they forget to eat (who does that?!) they are not exempt from creating some truly awkward artwork. Here are five paintings that I think are just too awkward:

The most awkward thing about The Ugly Duchess by Quentin Matsys isn’t dressing a man in the year 1513 in a corset and headdress, (although that was not exactly en vogue back then) but in the way the model is holding his fingers. Is he trying to throw out a gang sign? Is he doing math in his head? Is he showing off his double jointedness? Playing an invisible fiddle? I don’t know, but it’s too awkward for me to consider for very long.

This is so awkward, it actually pains me to post it. Never say I’m not committed to my art. This is Gabrielle d’Estrees and One of Her Sisters. Apparently the symbolism here is that Gabrielle is announcing to the world that her sister is pregnant. Maybe blurting her sister’s big news is even more awkward than the fashion in which she is making the announcement.

While we are in this very bizarre, nipply headspace, let’s just put Frida Kahlo’s painting out there. She had some odd self-portraits, but dare I say, this one takes the cake? I’m less weirded out by Frida, than I am by her nurse. She reeeeaaaallly looks like she wants to wean baby/adult Frida.

Look, I want to like Andrea Mategna, I do. He was a very skilled artist. But Mategna, why are you portraying my Lord and Savior as a little drunk baby?! Jesus’ face here is painfully awkward. Almost as bad as watching the fantasy suite episode of The Bachelor. Do better, Mategna. Do better.

Finally, an oldie but a goodie: American Gothic. Here are two people I would love to see play Awkward Hugs. I have such a soft spot for these two. I feel like she just finished saying, “Wait, what camera am I looking at?” and he was all, “What do I do with my hands? Give me that pitchfork!” They are just awkward enough to be totally enduring.

May your week be awkward in ways you can laugh about later and not irrevocably weird like the time your mom promised the “Dorothy Hamill” was in style.

I looked like a mushroom.

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