Detroit Statue Vandalized as Anti-Columbus Day Sentiment Grows

The statue was covered in fake blood.

The vandalized Detroit statue of Christopher Columbus. Photo: Daniel Bethencourt.
The vandalized Detroit statue of Christopher Columbus. Photo: Daniel Bethencourt.

Anti-Christopher Columbus sentiment manifested itself in the form of the vandalism of a Detroit statue of the Italian explorer this weekend. The bust, next to city hall, was splashed with fake blood, and a hatchet was taped to Columbus’s face, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Erected in 1910 in honor of Detroit’s Italian population, the artwork was made by Italian sculptor Augusto Rivalta, who donated the piece to the city. A plaque on the statue describes Columbus as a “great son of Italy” who “discovered America.”

Sites across the country are already being asked to reconsider the continued existence of public artworks honoring Confederate leaders. With the growing nationwide push to reexamine Columbus’s place in our history books (or at least on our calendar), it seems likely that monuments to the 15th-century explorer could be next.

Sebastiano del Piombo, <em>Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus</em> (1519). Photo: via Wikimedia Commons.

Sebastiano del Piombo, Posthumous portrait of Christopher Columbus (1519).
Photo: via Wikimedia Commons.

A growing number of cities have already renamed Columbus Day in recent years. This week, the 49th state joined the ranks, with governor Bill Walker noting that “Alaska is built upon the homelands and communities of the Indigenous Peoples of this region, without whom the building of the state would not be possible” in his proclamation of the change to Indigenous Peoples Day.

This week, Alaska joined the ranks, with governor Bill Walker noting that “Alaska is built upon the homelands and communities of the Indigenous Peoples of this region, without whom the building of the state would not be possible” in his proclamation of the change to “Indigenous Peoples Day.” He hopes “to promote appreciation, tolerance, understanding, friendship, and partnerships among Indigenous Peoples and all Alaskans.”

Gaetano Russo statue of Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle, in front of the Time Warner Center. Photo: Jnn13, via Wikimedia Commons.

Gaetano Russo statue of Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle, in front of the Time Warner Center.
Photo: Jnn13, via Wikimedia Commons.

Italian Americans, who take particular pride in Columbus’s life and journeys, are less supportive of efforts to rename the federal holiday, established in 1934. “Do we call it something else?” Michael A. Blandina, chairman of the Ocean County Columbus Day Parade and Italian Festival, asked the New York Times. “Then let’s call St. Patrick’s Day something else.”

Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press reports that the hatchet has been removed from the statue, and that the fake blood stains would be cleaned today.


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