Maintenance Worker Accidentally Trashes Sculpture at Outdoor Art Show

An image of the work installed for the Sculpture Mile event, before its removal. Photo: AP

An image of the work installed for the Sculpture Mile event, before its removal.

There are some people who will tell you that most contemporary art is “garbage,” but it’s not everyday that it’s literally mistaken for trash.

But somehow, a wood and tile sculpture by New York-based artist Jim Osman, valued at $10,000, was removed from a public art show in Madison, Connecticut this week by a local maintenance worker, who tore it apart and threw it in the garbage.

The piece was installed as part of the shoreline town’s Sculpture Mile exhibition, which is organized by the Hollycroft Foundation, a non-profit that supports artists and art exhibitions.

The worker, who remains anonymous, believed the sculpture was trash left behind by local skateboarders and used a hammer to dismantle the structure.

“He didn’t think it was art,” foundation president William Bendig told the Associated Press. “All he had to do was call us and we would have moved it.”

Osman spent a month creating the piece—a contoured bench lined with green artificial turf that was inspired by the designs of French architect Le Corbusier and meant to be climbed on by passersby. Osman has previously exhibited at the Lesley Heller Gallery on the Lower East Side, and teaches Fine Art at Parsons.

Another one of Jim Osman's works, Structure, Balance Leisure (2010). Photo: Jim Osman

Another one of Jim Osman’s works, Structure, Balance Leisure (2010).
Photo: Jim Osman.

The worker’s manager has offered financial compensation for the work, but Bendig has simply requested the worker’s help in locating and reassembling the sculpture.

“People congregate around it. It was so good to see the piece out in the world,” said Osman of the work. “It’s kind of a big letdown.”

A letdown it may be, but it’s actually not the first time someone has gone the wrong way on the whole expensive artwork/piece of garbage quandary. Last year, a $3.71 million Cui Ruzhuo painting was thrown out by hotel cleaning staff in Hong Kong.

We’re sympathetic. After all, some collectors buy trash, some artists use trash, and some things thought to be trash sell for $80,000.

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