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In 1919, the last year of his life, Pierre-August Renoir shared his thoughts on art.

“For me, a painting,” said the leading French impressionist, “should be something to cherish, joyous and pretty; yes, pretty!”

He failed on all counts, according to picketers outside Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Making headlines around the world, the Renoir Sucks at Painting (RSAP) movement counts three ’06 grads among their ranks—Harvard scientists Ben Ewen-Campen, Arpiar Saunders, and John Tuthill—carrying signs like “Treacle Harms Society” and chanting rhymes like “Put some fingers on those hands! Give us work by Paul Gauguin!”

Whether you consider these protests tongue-in-cheek trollery or an artistic cri de coeur, they’ve drawn reactions from prominent critics, countless Internet commenters, and even Renoir’s great-great-granddaughter, Genevieve. 

That’s mind-boggling and thrilling, Ewen-Campen, Saunders, and Tuthill say, especially since the protest literally took 20 minutes during a lunch break from their respective labs.

“I’ve received emails from art academics and artists who were stumped about how to get people to care and think about issues of the art establishment,” Saunders says. “Sometimes it’s easier to drop the hammer as outsiders, especially when it—or Google image search—unveils a simple, undeniable truth.”

“Everyone should proudly enjoy whatever art they love, and always remember that the idea of hierarchy in art is totally made up. Don’t get me wrong—criticism, scholarship, theory, and curation done well are art forms,” Ewen-Campen says. “But they’re certainly not the definitive rulebooks for what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad.’ If you believe that, say, the best part of Renoir’s career was when he stopped painting, you don’t need anyone else’s permission to feel that way. Especially in this case, because it is correct.”