Italian museum starts burning artwork to protest budget cuts

Antonio Manfredi, director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum, and Italian artist Rosaria Matarese burn one of Matarese's creations in front of the museum on Wednesday.
(Franco Castano / Associated Press)

A museum in Italy has resorted to burning artwork to protest cuts that its leader sees as unfair and destructive. The Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples plans to burn three paintings a week to protest what is perceived as the government’s war against art.

As reported by BBC News, Antonio Manfredi, director of the Casoria, set fire to the first painting on Tuesday and has garnered the support of European artists who are sympathetic to the cause. One artist, the Welsh sculptor John Brown, reportedly set fire to one of his works earlier this week in a show of solidarity.

Manfredi told Italy’s Corriere della Sera that the failure of officials from Italy and the European Union “to intervene on arts-related issues is appalling.” He said that “until concrete action has been implemented to safeguard [the museum], we shall continue to burn the works in our permanent collection.”

Italy has been hard hit by the global economic recession, with arts institutions experiencing deep cuts. The Maxxi museum in Rome has seen drastic budget cuts in recent years, while the ancient site of Pompeii has garnered concern for what many see as neglect by officials.

Earlier this month, the Italian government and the EU said they were launching a project to save the archaeological treasures in Pompeii.


Various reports have noted that Manfredi of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum is an outspoken personality with a flare for publicity.

He claims to have written a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel last year asking for asylum, “saying he was fed up with the government’s failure to protect Italy’s rich cultural heritage.”


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