The year was 1910. I, Gustav Klimt, mystery detective, had been minding my own business. I was preparing myself for a nice Limburger. I would eat it, yes, and then immortalize it forever upon a canvas.
It was hard work, being a great abstract painter by day and running a detective agency by night. It was hard work, and sometimes I got hungry. Hungry for justice, and also for cheese.
But to my astonishment, when I went to tempt my taste buds, the Limburger was nowhere to be found. There, in my cupboard, someone had left in its place a canvas, bearing a cubist painting of cheese. Quite amateurish, in my opinion. It lacked the flavor that an artist with my years of expertise could provide.
I searched for clues high and low, all around my offices, where I solve crime and create masterpieces. But still the cheese remained MIA. Had another painter ruthlessly stolen the fruits of my efforts?
I would start with the low ranks. I called Oskar Kokoschka, a lesser artist, in for questioning. “Oskar, did you eat my cheese?” I asked.
Kokoschka grinned playfully. “Did I eat your cheese? Or did I portray it anew, with a fresh perspective? After all, what is cheese, and what is art?”
“Don’t play coy with me, Kokoschka. Do you know who ate my cheese?”
I pressed down upon him with all the years of my superior talent. Kokoschka squealed.
“I don’t know! Ask Dali.”
I gave Kokoschka a shove. The Austrian painter disappeared into a cloud of smoke. “Ah, Oskar, you chose the wrong artist to mess with. You have been forgotten by the world while I, Gustav Klimt, am beloved by all, my art sold for millions.”
Maybe Kokoschka was onto something. Maybe he was just a moron with less talent in his whole body than I had in my pinky finger. Either way, he had given me a lead, so I followed it. I called Salvador Dali in for questioning.
“Salvador Dali. My friend, my contemporary. Did you eat my cheese?”
Dali twitched his moustache. “Did I eat your cheese? Nay. But if I had…I am imagining a fine Gouda. It’s melting, yes. Melting and covered with ants. The cheese is delicious, the ants horrifying.”
“I’m not in the mood, Dali. Do you know who ate my cheese?”
I grabbed Dali by the shoulders, forcing a yelp.
“I don’t know! Ask Pollock.”
Later that day, I paid Pollock a visit. He was busy at work on a spattered canvas.
“Jackson Pollock. Did you eat my cheese?”
Pollock looked around shifty-eyed. I decided to play good cop.
“I won’t be mad, Jackson. I just want to know. To set the record straight. Did you eat my cheese?”
“No. But I helped myself to some of your sardines.”
“They were expired.”
“I know. I threw up all over this canvas.” He gestured to the artwork in front of him. “I really like how splattery it is. I think I’m going to call it, Study with food number One hundred and fifty seven.”
I left Pollock’s quarters even more confused than I had been. Something about the whole thing seemed a bit fishy. It reeked of a cover up. What did Pollock want with my expired sardines? Why couldn’t everyone stay out of my cupboards? The questions were endless.
Just then, Picasso appeared on the scene. He was carrying a canvas covered in yellow paint, cubes of horrifying golds, saffrons and lemons.
I was furious. “Picasso, what have you done with my cheese?”
Picasso snickered evilly. “It didn’t want to be cheese any more. It wanted to be cubes. Look how the painting deconstructs your notion of what cheese is, and what cheese isn’t.”
I flung myself towards the other painter with a lunge. “I say that cheese belongs on my canvas — and covered in a delicate gold leaf — surrounded by the face of a beautiful woman.”
“Well, I say the cheese belongs in my stomach,” Picasso said.
With a yell, I leapt onto Picasso, grabbing him by the shoulders. He pulled my beard.
“You’re cheating!” I called.
“All’s fair in love and art.”
We were both distracted when Andy Warhol barged in, carrying a painting of Campbell’s Soup.
“Klimt — so like, I was at your place last night, and I was really hungry. Then I opened your cupboard, and I had this great idea for a painting. It’s kind of like, what is food, and what is art?”
I glared at Warhol.
“By the way, you’re out of soup.”