Venus of the Rags has a towering presence, Source: Municipality of Naples

Naples sets up giant Venus sculpture as a commentary on waste

Naples sets up giant Venus sculpture as a commentary on waste

The artwork, contrasting beauty and pollution, is part of the Napoli Contemporanea cultural programme

Venus of the Rags is the name of a gigantic sculpture of the classical goddess, which will adorn the Piazza Municipio of Naples during the Napoli Contemporanea cultural programme. What’s unusual about the artwork, however, is that the woman represented seems to be digging into an equally gigantic pile of clothes.

The original of the Venus of the Rags (Venere degli Stracci) as an artwork, was first created by Michelangelo Pistoletto back in 1967. Now, the sculptor revisited his famed chef-d’oeuvre by making a monumental version of it, done specially for the city.

Considered one of the most iconic works of the twentieth century and one of the artist's most emblematic, the installation stages the contrast between the still beauty of the classical tradition and the transience of the contemporary.

Today we have to build horizontally and circularly, which means looking around, looking back, seeing globally," claims the artist, who even at the age of 90 remains committed to creating a restless dialogue between past and present.

Relevant today, more than ever

Placing the Venus of the Rags in Piazza Municipio is a gesture of great cultural and social significance, an open invitation to citizens and visitors to experience the square as a place of daily dialogue and a stimulus to reflection and participation. Its stature calls attention and allows everyone to rediscover and re-appropriate the city.

But also, just as importantly, this artwork reactivates reflection on themes, such as the transient nature of materials and consumption, thanks to the dialogue between rags and classical statuary. The movement of dressing and undressing is here placed before a global dilemma: the accumulation of waste, the continuous passing of things, and the beauty that is confronted with pollution.

The initiative – which in addition to Michelangelo Pistoletto also involves names such as Antonio Marras and Gaetano Pesce – was promoted by the municipal administration and curated by Councillor Vincenzo Trione to strengthen the link between city institutions and contemporary art. It consists of site-specific installations and exhibitions scattered throughout the city.



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