An installation featuring a statue of Venus leaning against a pile of multi-coloured clothing by the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto was destroyed in a suspected arson attack on Wednesday just two weeks after it was inaugurated on a square in Naples. City officials and the 90-year-old artist have pledged to rebuild the work, which was to be on display until December, according to media reports.
Pistoletto and the mayor of Naples, Gaetano Manfredi, expressed dismay at the fire. Video footage showed flames engulfing the 7-metre-high work, leaving only the charred and twisted metal frame beneath the clothing. Italian media reported that a 32-year-old homeless man was arrested after police investigated video footage.
The artist has produced several versions of Venus of the Rags, which contrasts the beauty and timelessness of classical sculpture with contemporary consumerism. The version unveiled on June 28 was part of a programme called Contemporary Naples, initiated by the city and curated by Vincenzo Trione. The aim was to bring less frequented parts of the city to life with art, Gaetano said at the inauguration of the work.