Italian artist Pistoletto's Venus of the Rags destroyed in fire in "an act of great violence"

AFP , Thursday 13 Jul 2023

One of Italian contemporary artist Michelangelo Pistoletto's most famous works, "Venus of the Rags", has been burnt to cinders in a suspected arson attack in Naples, authorities said Wednesday.



The installation, in which a statue of the Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility stands next to a vast pile of coloured, discarded clothes, was destroyed where it stood on display near the town hall in the southern Italian city.

Naples Mayor Gaetano Manfredi said the fire in the early hours of Wednesday was "an act of great violence which leaves us speechless", and promised the installation would be rebuilt.

Pistoletto was "embittered and hurt" by the "vandalism", Manfredi said, but keen that the fire be "interpreted by us as a (chance for a) fresh start".

After examining neighbourhood surveillance camera footage, police arrested a 32-year-old homeless man on suspicion of arson and destruction of artistic works, according to Il Corriere della Sera.

There are several versions of the "Venus of the Rags", which was first created in 1967 and juxtaposes an iconic figure of classical culture and beauty with the detritus of contemporary society.

Pistoletto, 90, is a central figure in Italy's Arte Povera (Poor Art) movement, and his works have been shown across the world, including in London, New York and Paris.

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