Vandals Decapitate Nicole Eisenman’s Celebrated Artwork for Skulptur Projekte Münster Overnight

Eisenman’s piece for the important public art show is a temporary fountain in a popular park.

Nicole Eisenman, Sketch for a Fountain (2017) ©Skulptur Projekte, photo by Henning Rogge

Nicole Eisenman’s site-specific work for Skulptur Projekte Münster, Sketch for a Fountain, has been “seriously damaged” by vandals in the night between Wednesday, July 19, and Thursday, July 20.

One of the artwork’s plaster figures has been targeted by vandalism but details describing the extent of the damage beyond a reference to its severity have not been specified. The organizers announced that they are “discussing further steps with the artist right now.” A decision as to whether or not the piece would be repaired will follow.

Eisenman’s artwork for the important sculpture show in Münster is a fountain installed in the grassy meadows alongside a well-frequented public promenade.

The piece, which became a favorite among visitors, includes a square metal basin filled with water, with one bronze figure standing inside it, water streams cascading from unlikely parts of its body. Four additional figures, reclining or seated, are installed around the basin, with only one of them rendered in bronze. The other figures—all of which are slightly larger than life-size, voluminous, and genderless—are cast in plaster, and thus subjected to the elements. This material detail was meant as a conceptual contemplation on the nature of public art, but may have also rendered the piece particularly vulnerable to vandalism.

Skulptur Projekte Münster takes place once every ten years in the North Rhine-Westphalian city, and is considered one of the world’s most important exhibition dedicated to sculpture and public art. It was launched in 1977, and its artistic director since the very first edition has always been Kasper König, who works on each iteration with rotating curatorial teams. This year, the co-curators are Britta Peters and Marianne Wagner.

Works in the exhibition are temporarily installed in different locations around the city, and are meant to be removed at the end of the 100-day show. Some sculptures, however, are bought by the city and remain on permanent display.

UPDATE: artnet News has received a statement specifying that the head of the reclining plaster figure leaning back on its elbows has been violently removed, and is missing.

Eisenman and the curatorial team have decided that the head will not be remade, and that the ensemble will remain as is. Other small necessary repairs to the area around it will be completed this afternoon.


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