Artworks Burnt In War Against Arts Cuts

Italian gallerist Antonio Manfredi torches artworks in protest against government austerity measures amid debt crisis

Antonio Manfredi, director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples, has started to set fire to his collection, with the first being ritually destroyed on Tuesday: ‘Over 1,000 artworks are headed for destruction anyway because of the government’s indifference,’ he said in justification.

Three paintings will now be burned per week, with each act being broadcast online. The first work was by French artist Severine Bourguignon, who supported Manfredi’s protest and gave him the go-ahead. It is the first strike in what Manfredi calls the ‘Art War’.

Italy, in the midst of debt crisis, has seen the imposition of far-reaching austerity measures. Art institution are especially vulnerable, thanks to the simultaneous evaporation of public and private financial support in the current climate. Major art galleries have reported the near-halving of their budgets.

And while the situation in Italy is especially dire, versions of the scenario are being seen across Europe. In consequence, Welsh artist John Brown has lent his support to Manfredi’s ‘war’, torching one of his own works on Monday in protest against Art cuts here in the UK: ‘These cuts reach beyond the confines of the visual arts and affect the cohesive well-being of millions of people all over the world.’

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