Saturday, April 26, 2008

Now, where did we put that sculpture? You know, the 34 ton one. Oh, nevermind, let's just get a new one!


Sometime in October of this year, Richard Serra's "Equal Parallel / Guernica Bengasi" will be back on display in Madrid's Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, according to new director, Manuel Borja-Villel. Except this time it will be an exact duplicate created by the artist for the museum, which somehow "misplaced" the original! This story goes back some years:
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The Reina Sofia commissioned the original sculpture in 1986 and it was delivered to the museum the next year. In 1990 it was stored in the warehouse of a company that specialized in storing large pieces of art. Tomás Llorens was the museum director at that time.
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In 2005 the next museum director, Ana Martinez de Aguilar, decided to retrieve the work, so that it could be put on display again. The only problem was that the storage company had gone bankrupt in 1998, and no one could account for the 34,473 kilo sculpture. According to a recent story in El País, the last written record of its still being in storage dates to 1992.
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Since the loss was discovered, police have searched for the the four 1.5 meter wide slabs of metal that make up the sculpture, but three years later the case remains unsolved. Some individuals have suggested that the work may have been sold as scrap or melted down by someone who did not recognize it as a work of art. (Having seen some of Richard Serra's work, I can understand how this would be possible.)
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Before resigning from the Reina Sofia last year, Ms. Martínez de Aguilar was able to get the sculptor to agree to create a copy for the museum at cost -- $99,000. (The museum paid about $220,000 for the original.) The agreement between the artist and museum stipulates that should the original be found, they will mutually decide which pieces will be destroyed, the originals or the duplicates, so that there will be only one work in existence.
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Oh, and Serra also made the museum promise that it wouldn't misplace this one.
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Hasta siempre amig@s,
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Carloz

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