Public Artwork Severely Damaged in Suspected Arson Attack in Germany

The sculpture was badly damaged by the flames. Photo: Markus Hofmann via Badische Zeitung

The University of Freiburg in Germany has filed a criminal complaint after a suspected arson attack on a sculpture by the Berlin-based artist Reiner Maria Matysik. The €75,000 ($84,889) publicly funded sculpture was installed at the university campus in 2009.

According to police spokesperson Laura Riske, the fire was set on Saturday night at around midnight. She also revealed that a police investigation is already underway and that prosecutors are currently interviewing witnesses.

At the moment it still remains unclear whether the fire was intentional or caused by negligence, but police have not ruled out an arson attack, Badische Zeitung reported.

The artist and his work during installation in 2009. Photo: Badische Zeitung

The artist and his work during installation in 2009.
Photo: Badische Zeitung

Upon receiving the painful news, the artist expressed his dismay at the damage. Matysik said he wasn’t sure if he will restore the work or leave it as it is, although he revealed that he will prepare plans for both scenarios. The future of the artwork depends primarily on whether the university building’s insurance policy also covers the outdoor sculpture.

The artist added that he was happy about the large number of locals who contacted him to express their regret. “It is very nice,” he said.

The artwork, located in Freiburg, was funded by taxpayers as part of Germany's public art program. Photo: uniklinik-freiburg.de

The artwork, located in Freiburg, was funded by taxpayers as part of Germany’s public art program.
Photo: uniklinik-freiburg.de

The polyester and resin sculpture has become popular in the community since it was erected six years ago in front of the university’s center for biochemistry and molecular cell research. Matysik won the commission in an art competition for the new building. The work is currently concealed behind construction fencing.

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