“We used to draw in the attic, so we’d draw these werewolves, and tits, and dicks,” painter Jonathan Gent has said of his brother’s artistic influence on him when they were children. His work “The Beatles in America,” which shows a continued interest in painting dicks, is part of the Liverpool Love charity exhibition, which opened on September 25 at the British invaders’ hometown Museum of Liverpool. As Click Liverpool reports (via FACT), however, Gent’s oil-painting depiction of the Fab Four’s penises has been defaced.
The painting shows four sets of seemingly withered genitalia, each labeled respectively as belonging to Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon. Gent, the artist, has said the Beatles are “such a global thing, this untouchable thing, and that’s what interests me most about them. So this idea of suddenly having their dicks on a canvas … it was about, I guess, closeness, you know, getting close to this idol in some way.”
The oil on the canvas was “pressed and badly smudged,” according to Click Liverpool, which quotes a Museum of Liverpool spokesperson as attributing the damage to “visitors.” Though experts are evaluating the work, it’s unclear whether it can be auctioned as planned on November 17. “The damage is all the more regrettable because along with other works in the exhibition the painting is due to be auctioned to raise funds for children’s charity Claire House,” the spokesperson said.
Gent’s “The Beatles in America” isn’t the only Beatles-related piece in the exhibition, which aims to collect works that symbolize artists’ love of Liverpool and its citizens. In fact, Liverpool Love’s website says the exhibition also includes pieces by Yoko Ono and original Beatles bassist Stuart Sutcliffe.
Nor are Gent’s phallic inspirations solely Beatle-maniacal. “I think of Elvis’ dick, or I think of Springsteen’s, or Lou Reed’s, or Bowie’s, or anyone’s,” he says. “There’s no oddness. It’s almost odd not to think about their dicks, really.”