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For the Love of Art
August 3, 2012 8:58 AM   Subscribe

"If nobody cares about the art that's inside the museum, then I'll burn it," vowed Antonio Manfredi, director of the cash-starved Contemporary Art Museum of Casoria in Italy. In February, he started burning.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico (21 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is chilling. I gasped when I read the headline. I get what he is doing, but as a student of Art History, I lament the future scholars who may never get a chance to see what may become important pieces in the fullness of time.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:03 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Before destroying a piece, Manfredi gets permission from the artist

This, to me, makes more than a little difference.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:08 AM on August 3, 2012 [28 favorites]


I'm glad to see that art still has the power to shock.
posted by Suddenly, elf ass at 9:08 AM on August 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


That he gets permission from the artist beforehand makes a pretty huge difference to my take on this. You have to read almost the whole article, though, before you get that tidbit. I still don't actually approve of this, though. I understand the desire to bring attention to the museum's plight, but I think there are probably good ways to do that that don't involve destroying works of art.
posted by yoink at 9:10 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


The city didn’t ask for rent, or payment for the utilities, but the museum received no other government support.

For a small suburban town that the author describes as the "Third World," free rent and utilities is a lot of support. Still it's shocking. Like librarians burning books.
posted by bluefly at 9:11 AM on August 3, 2012


If nobody cares about the art that's inside the museum, then I'll burn it,

Good for him. Most of the time things are unwanted they generally get sent off to the garbage dump.

The value of art is of course very elusive, but I'm pretty sure "some guy in Italy put it on the wall in a basement" is not what raises a piece from deserved anonymity to the profound. Both the public and private sectors have failed to find value in his collection. Perhaps that's a sign that your collection isn't very good, rather than that you haven't burnt enough of it yet?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:19 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


He should do a tumblr before he burns them. That way they're for the ages!
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


He could have just started giving them away, instead of burning them. I think he cares more about the museum than he does about the art. Which isn't awful — if there are going to be museums then someone has to care about them. But it does highlight the fact that "Art" and "Museum" aren't identical.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:25 AM on August 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was initially prepared to be really shocked - and that first picture was certainly awful.

But it looks like he's only had works by new artists that don't get much exposure, and haven't been valued by larger galleries. The works described certainly don't sound super profound. I wouldn't burn them, but I could see painting over them - as artists have historically done for hundreds of years.

Add to that that he's doing it with the consent of the artist, and this really just adds up to a stunt.
posted by corb at 9:30 AM on August 3, 2012


He should burn the art and then put the ashes into a plexiglass tube and display it as a piece of modern art.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:37 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Add to that that he's doing it with the consent of the artist, and this really just adds up to a stunt.

Not a bad thing if he then gets funding to make the bad PR disappear though.
posted by Space_Lady at 9:38 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


If they're his, then surely he can do what he wants with them?

"Support my cause or I'll destroy my own stuff" hardly seems a good negotiating tactic, though. Unless maybe you live in Blazing Saddles.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:49 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


> Add to that that he's doing it with the consent of the artist, and this really just adds up to a stunt.

Agree. Rauschenberg's "Erased de Kooning Drawing" seemed a lot less shocking and, uh, transgressive, to me when I found out that he not only had de Kooning's permission but that de K actually chose the drawing to be erased and gave it to R for the purpose.
posted by jfuller at 10:04 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just because its art doesn't mean its good art. Huge swathes of art is terrible. Contemporary art donated to an obscure provincial museum started on a whim by a dodgy local government is I suspect very terrible. I shed no tears for the crappy canvas.

As a stunt by the gallery curator, it is however excellent because we're talking about it.
posted by Damienmce at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Damienmce: "Just because its art doesn't mean its good art. Huge swathes of art is terrible. Contemporary art donated to an obscure provincial museum started on a whim by a dodgy local government is I suspect very terrible. I shed no tears for the crappy canvas."

Define "good" in this context. And how would we know without assessing it for ourselves?

Quite a few factors need to be considered when defining whether a work has artistic merit, and the criteria are often arbitrary. Personally, I would be very hesitant before declaring a work of art terrible and worth destroying.
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on August 3, 2012


He should burn the art and then put the ashes into a plexiglass tube and display it as a piece of modern art.
--posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:37 AM on August 3


NO, compress it all into a teensy tiny diamond, then display it!
posted by symbioid at 11:09 AM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just because its art doesn't mean its good art. Huge swathes of art is terrible. Contemporary art donated to an obscure provincial museum started on a whim by a dodgy local government is I suspect very terrible. I shed no tears for the crappy canvas.

As a stunt by the gallery curator, it is however excellent because we're talking about it.


Let's just say it; it's probably the case that this performance art is the best piece ever to be connected to the museum.
posted by jaduncan at 11:18 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I fully respect his right to burn it if he respects my right not to care.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:53 AM on August 3, 2012


I have the only mp3 copy of a song I wrote that someone can delete.
posted by Ardiril at 12:19 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was going to say that suburban Naples is a grim, at best bland place so the struggle of the museum was not surprising: who would want to venture out there to look at second-rate art? But maybe they do have a few good and interesting things to looks at (I remember now a friend, a photographer in Naples, telling me about this place - she contributed to an exhibit and did some other work for this guy, I guess), and the museum is located in a disused modern school and its grounds, which would be a great place to exhibit and look at art, so perhaps the idea isn't so crazy. Equally surprising places, like Margate, have become art destinations.
posted by Flashman at 12:20 PM on August 3, 2012


The erased de Kooning was actually something that de K was ambivalent about -- apparently Rauschenberg had to get him pretty drunk before he agreed, and then de K sometimes denied that it was real afterwards. So in some ways, I find it more interesting because Rauschenberg asked de Kooning to confront the issues raised by the piece (your fame is more important than your work, for one) and become complicit in them, rather than just acquiring a drawing and erasing it without de Kooning's knowledge.
posted by obliquicity at 3:51 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


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