Antonio Manfredi Burns Artworks To Protest Italian Austerity Cuts, ‘This Is A War’

  on April 18 2012 2:39 PM

Antonio Manfredi, owner of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum is threatening to set fire to paintings if the government does not give him more funding to keep his cultural outpost open.

There's no money for upkeep. We were flooded recently. And there are tons of garbage mounting up outside, Manfredi told the Guardian.

He is calling his efforts an art war to prevent the destruction of culture.

Casoria Contemporary Art Museum is a privately sponsored institution that will close if it doesn't receive funds from regional, national, or European authorizes, the Guardian reported. The museum in Naples showcases works by European, African, and Chinese artists.

Manfredi set fire to a painting by French artist Séverine Bourguignon Tuesday worth £8,200 ($13,050).

This is a war. This is a revolution, Manfredi said. And in a revolution, there are winners and losers.

Manfredi threated to destroy a sculpture by Rosaria Matarese Wednesday.

He plans to burn three artworks a week from now on in his protest called Art War.

Our 1,000 artworks are headed for destruction anyway because of the government's indifference, he said to the BBC.

Bourguignon said she is in mourning after watching her artwork be destroyed via Skype.

It is very sad that they burned my painting. We hoped until the very last minute that someone would step in, she said to the Guardian. And now I have to fix in my mind that I will never see that work again. But I hope it'll be worthwhile. At least people heard about what is happening in Italy and to culture everywhere. It's been useful.

Artists across Europe have lent their support to Manfredi's cause. Welsh actor John Brown set fire to his sculpture, Manifesto, Monday. He said it was a symbolic act to protest against the way the economic crisis is being dealt with.

These cuts reach beyond the confines of the visual arts and affect the cohesive well-being of millions of people all over the world, he said to the BBC.

Art institutions have seen their funding dry up as Italy's government passed a host of austerity measures to lift the country out of its economic woes.

The Maxxi Museum of Contemporary Art, one of Italy's major galleries, saw its funding cut by 43 percent in 2011. The upkeep of Pompeii has been neglected, with some of the ancient city collapsing, much to the chagrin of international officials.

All works of art are being sacrificed with the permission of its creators.

Join the Discussion