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Amateur Artist Attacks Marina Abramović With His ‘Very Distorted’ Painting of Her

The man hit the legendary performance artist over the head with his portrait at an exhibition opening in Florence

Marina Abramović, Florence, 2018. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Laura Lezza

Marina Abramović, Florence, 2018. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Laura Lezza

Marina Abramović, Florence, 2018. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Laura Lezza

Marina Abramović has been attacked at an opening event for her exhibition ‘The Cleaner’ at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. A man – reportedly a 51-year-old Czech national – struck the performance artist over the head with a painting of her he had made himself. The canvas had been framed in wood without a glass panel. He was later released as the artist did not wish to press charges, according to police. Abramović was not injured in the incident.

Abramović said that she initially smiled as the assailant walked towards her, as she left a book-signing event. She thought that he was about to offer the artwork, which she described as ‘a distorted painting’, as a gift. ‘In a split second I saw his expression change and he became violent, as he came towards me very quickly and forcefully,’ Abramović told Italian newspaper La Repubblica. ’These dangers always happens quickly, like death.’

The attacker is thought to have a previous record of controversial public behaviour. The city mayor Dario Nardella said on Twitter that he was ‘not new to this kind of action’. And newspaper Corriere della Sera claimed that the man had appeared naked in public in Florence several times in recent years. According to local reports, the man told Abramović that he was compelled to act ‘for my art’.

Arturo Galansino, director of Palazzo Strozzi and curator of the Abramović show, said that he was sad to see ‘that such an important exhibition for Italy should be marred by the actions of one individual.’ Galansino expressed ‘respect for Marina Abramović, who requested a meeting with her assailant in the immediate aftermath to better understand’ his behaviour.

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