Pretty Ugly

It’s Friday night of Harvard-Yale weekend. “Blank Space” is blaring, Rubinoff is flowing faster than torrential rain, and students are a drunken sea of blue and crimson. After a while, my Yalie high-school best friend and I decide to head back home, until his ex-hook-up-friends-with-benefits-maybe-boyfriend texts him to come over. We head over (against my advice), and my friend succumbs to his ex-whatever’s allures. Sitting alone in the common room, I chug away at my gin until a random Yalie walks in and disaster strikes.

Adela Vanity Portrait
Covers Executive Adela H. Kim and her critique of modern art.

The guy—let’s call him Matt—asks what my “major” is. This is apparently how Yalies start a conversation. Nice to meet you too, my name is Adela. I tell him that I’m an art history concentrator. I see him give me a once-over, and I know what he sees: my thick black frame glasses, eyelashes coated with black mascara, and lips smeared with red lipstick. He asks condescendingly, “So you like pretty things?”

Yes. I’m an art historian because I like to look at pretty, colorful things. In fact, my focus field, Modern Art, is just abstract bursts of color shining like a rainbow. So, Matt, here are the top five prettiest modern works. I’m sorry I left before giving you the list.

Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”


Ooh, look at how smooth and white the urinal’s porcelain is. It’s so sensuous, and I think the upright position of the urinal resembles a uterus. Come to think of it, I kind of want to pee in that thing, but I can’t because of the stupid guards hovering around me. I wonder if that Mutt guy ever peed in it.

Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”

So naked. Many pinkness. Wow. I love naked brothel scenes; I can just imagine myself having sex with these figures—especially the croucher on the right corner. Though, I have to say, her face is kind of scary. I mean, what’s up with the mask? Whatever, sex overcomes everything, right?

Kazimir Malevich’s “Suprematist Composition: White on White”

It’s a white square…on a bigger white square? What does it even mean? It’s not even colorful! But I guess its facture is kind of cool—the texture of the paint really comes through. Is that “pure feeling” inside me? Who am I?

Piet Mondrian’s “Victory Boogie-Woogie”

Color, finally! I can feel the syncopating rhythm of blue, red, and yellow with some other boring colors! But why are there tapes coming off this work? That’s stupid—it’s almost as if Piet didn’t want to finish it. How pointless. Like Hegelian dialectics.

Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn Monroe”

Meow, what a sex icon. Look at that blond hair and blue eyeshadow. I can consume her via the countless images of her. Commodity fetishism has finally trickled down to art, thank goodness. I wonder if this will look good in my flat in the East Village.

—Adela H. Kim is the outgoing and incoming Covers Executive. When she is not pondering about the environmental-specificity in Henri Matisse's "The Swimming Pool," she can be found looking up absurd German compound nouns that she can't pronounce. She can be reached at