Venus of the Rags sculpture before it was burned to the ground

Pistoletto’s Venus of the Rags burned to the ground

By Region News Southern Italy

A fire in the early hours of Wednesday completely destroyed contemporary Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Venere degli Stracci (Venus of the Rags) installation in Naples’ Piazza Municipio.

The work featured a large classical statue of the Roman goddess of love and beauty before a huge pile of brightly coloured, discarded clothes. The Venus of the Rags statue melted and the clothes turned to ash. All that was left was the metal structure.

The Naples installation was one of several versions of the artwork.

Naples mayor Gaetano Manfredi said he suspected foul play and expressed “shock at an act of great violence that leaves you speechless”. He also added “the city won’t give up”, saying he had spoken to 90-year-old Pistoletto. They agreed the work would be re-created, possibly with the help of a fund-raising campaign.

 The mayor said the Pistoletto foundation had informed him some days ago that a sort of social media ‘contest’ had begun inviting people to torch the work.

“Unfortunately, we live in a society in which these acts of gratuitous violence are the order of the day,” Manfredi said. “I’ve have spoken to the city’s chief of police. We are confident that the culprit will be identified”.

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