An Alleged Arson Attack Has Destroyed Michelangelo Pistoletto’s ‘Venus Of The Rags’ Installation in Naples

The artist has committed to making another version of the work for the city.

The installation titled "Venus of the Rags" by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto is pictured burning after a suspected arson attack in Naples. Photo courtesy of ANSA/AFP/Getty Images

An alleged arson attack destroyed a giant installation of the Venus of the Rags sculpture in Naples, Italy, by the famed contemporary artist Michelangelo Pistoletto on Wednesday.

The installation was first created in 1967 and several versions of it are on display in museums around the world but the new, massive version of it had just been inaugurated two weeks ago in Naples’ Piazza del Municipio in the center of the city.

The work juxtaposes a statue of the Roman goddess Venus with a pile of rags and is meant to provide commentary on consumerism and the degradation of society.

“Deep dismay at what happened to the Venus Of The Rags,” Naples Mayor Gaetano Manfredi said in a statement translated from Italian.

“Now, however, is the time for a response from the city: I have already heard from Pistoletto, the work will be redone. Violence and vandalism will not stop art, regeneration and culture in Naples.”

Pistoletto shared a video message to his Twitter on Wednesday in which he also addressed the destruction of his work.

“My first reaction was a strong control of emotion because reason must always win for me,” Pistoletto said in Italian.

Piercamillo Falasca, the vice secretary of the Piu Europa political party, said in a statement he was returning home on his scooter and stopped to admire the sculpture as he often does – just hours before it was burned.

“Naples is doing a huge job to find itself. The city is more lively and attractive than ever, but it still has within itself that evil plant of incivility that we must all, all, work to eradicate. Solidarity with the mayor Gaetano Manfredi and the artist Michelangelo Pistoletto,” Falasca said in Italian.

Manfredi told reporters that the work would be recreated and Falasca said crowdfunding efforts to raise money for the new work have already begun.

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