'Venus of the Rags' rises from ashes in Naples after arson attack

March 8, 2024 4:07 pm

[Source: Reuters]

An open-air installation of “Venus of the Rags,” one of the most famous works by Italian contemporary artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, was unveiled in Naples on Wednesday after a previous version was destroyed in an arson attack last year.

The new giant version of the sculpture, of which several other examples are on display in museums around the world, has been installed again in Piazza del Municipio, a historic square in the heart of the southern Italian city.

The new version has however been made of fire-proof material as a precaution.

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A symbol of the Arte Povera movement, which counts Pistoletto among its leading members, it shows the Roman goddess of love, beauty, and fertility standing next to a pile of rags.

“The Venus embraces the rags and makes them regenerate, turns them into colour and shape, they become a heap of wonder,” said Pistoletto, who is 90 and financed the new artwork, which he has permanently donated to Naples.

He was philosophical about the attack on the work last year.

“This was someone with personal problems that are both individual but also a reflection of the situation in society,” he said.

Locals welcomed the installation.

“It’s a wonderful work that makes you think,” said Naples resident Tanya Voynona while taking photos of it.

The installation is meant to convey the juxtaposition between eternal beauty, represented by the goddess Venus, and modern society’s social degradation and consumerism.

Money raised through a crowd-funding effort launched after the fire will be now used to finance projects by non-profit organisations supporting people with disabilities, women and prisoners.