A Burning in Naples

“It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance . . . and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.” Henry James (April 15, 1843 – February 28, 1916)

Henry James may have died in the early part of the 1900’s but his ideas are alive and well, especially in Naples, Italy. Antonio Manfredi of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum has taken matters even further when it comes to defending the art process. He is aggressively protesting government cutbacks and lack of support for the cultural sector. Aggressive is not the word – perhaps forceful, even destructive. He is making a stand by burning art. Media reports state that the only hostages taken are works of art with the blessing of the artists. Séverine Bourguignon’s La Promenade, a floral canvas valued at approximately $9,000 to $13,000 CAD, was the first to burn on April 19, 2012. According to the Guardian, Manfredi has 1000 works which are in jeopardy.

Antonio Manfredi is serious – his establishment, Casoria Contemporary Art Museum (Cam), is in dire need of funds. The Italian government has made difficult fiscal choices. Art and culture are easily sacrificed during times of economic upheaval. But there’s another side. Cam is located in a socially deprived part of Naples. If Cam shut the doors, the whole community would suffer from the closure.

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

Antonio Manfredi

The problem is real and, undoubtedly, there are winners and losers. I do not have any answers but I know that our economic vitality is closely linked and dependent upon our cultural heritage.  I hope the burning stops!   We need all the art that is created.

What if these paintings had been burned?

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