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Vandals destroy groundbreaking artwork by Michelangelo Pistoletto in Naples

On Wednesday morning, vandals ignited a devastating fire that engulfed a groundbreaking artwork created by Michelangelo Pistoletto, one of Italy’s most renowned contemporary artists. The incident occurred outside Naples City Hall, leaving behind nothing but a charred frame of Pistoletto’s installation.

Pistoletto’s artwork, titled “Ragged Venus,” had been proudly displayed in Naples since June 28th. The installation featured a magnificent neoclassical nude Venus, crafted from plaster. The inspiration for this masterpiece came from Bertel Thorvaldsen’s 19th-century sculpture, “Venus with Apples,” discovered amidst a mountain of ruins.

Notably, Pistoletto had created several versions of “Ragged Venus” over the years. The initial rendition emerged in 1967, utilizing concrete or cement Venus figures sourced from garden centers and embellishing them with mica to achieve a shimmering surface. Other variations involved plaster casts, with one even composed of Greek marble containing mica, which is now housed at the Tate Britain.

In an interview with Corriere de Corriere, Pistoletto speculated on the potential motivations behind the attack. The 90-year-old artist reflected, “This is a work that calls for revival, emphasizing the need to find balance and harmony between two ideas that appear beautiful on the one hand and perfect on the other. Consumerism, it’s a disaster.” Pistoletto expressed his belief that the destruction might be connected to his artwork’s critical stance towards consumerism, highlighting the urgent need for societal harmony.

In a poignant remark, Pistoletto added, “Anyway, the world is burning. The same spirits that started the war also set Venus ablaze.” This statement reflects his profound concern about the global state of affairs and the destructive forces that ignite conflicts and turmoil.

Beyond his role as an artist, Michelangelo Pistoletto is renowned as a painter, object artist, and art theorist. He emerged as a prominent figure in the Italian Arte Povera movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This artistic movement challenged and confronted political, industrial, and cultural institutions through their creations, representing a powerful form of social critique.

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