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Kippenberger artwork worth €800,000 'cleaned' away
Photo: DPA

Kippenberger artwork worth €800,000 'cleaned' away

Published: 03 Nov 2011 17:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Nov 2011 17:06 GMT+01:00

A cleaning woman at a museum in Dortmund who mistook a Martin Kippenberger sculpture for an unsightly mess has destroyed the valuable artwork beyond recognition.

The cleaner at the city's Ostwall Museum went to work on the Kippenberger installation entitled "When It Starts Dripping From the Ceiling" which was valued by insurers at €800,000 ($1.1 million), a museum spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The late contemporary master had created a tower of wooden slats under which a rubber trough was placed with a thin beige layer of paint representing dried rain water. Taking it for an actual stain, the cleaner scrubbed the surface until it gleamed.

"It is now impossible to return it to its original state," the spokeswoman said, adding that the damage had been discovered late last month and that the work had been on loan to the museum from a private collector.

She said that cleaning crews had orders to remain 20 centimetres (eight inches) away from artworks but it was unclear if the woman had received the directive from the external company that employed her.

Works of art not infrequently fall victim to zealous cleaners. In 1986, a "grease stain" by Joseph Beuys valued at around 400,000 euros was mopped away at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf, western Germany.

AFP/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:43 November 3, 2011 by Englishted
Now a lick of paint and it will be as good as new.
18:16 November 3, 2011 by Landmine
lucky the woman didn't carry of the thing thinking it was trash. It sure looks like junk that needs to be in the trash....
18:18 November 3, 2011 by twisted
I think the cleaning lady has a greater sense of art than Martin Kippenberger, whoever he is ....what a piece of trash, in my humble opinion.
18:56 November 3, 2011 by lordkorner
there is plenty of work for that cleaning lady in the so called modern art museum of the world...
19:46 November 3, 2011 by ovalle3.14
With a minijob salary, it will take her 27 lifetimes to pay it back.
19:53 November 3, 2011 by Englishted
"A cleaning woman at a museum in Dortmund who mistook a Martin Kippenberger sculpture for an unsightly mess has destroyed the valuable artwork beyond recognition."

A headline and a puzzle to be "beyond recognition." it must have been

recognisable before, as what?
20:06 November 3, 2011 by nemo999
Is the picture the before or after? How would you know? It looks like my first woodworking project when I was 11, My project was to be either a coat rack or a shoe tree, or maybe it was ladder. I did not get a very good grade, I would have done better if I had known that I could have gotten €800,000, and I would have even painted it.
20:14 November 3, 2011 by Englishted
@ovalle3.14

Not when the minimum wage come into force in Germany ,then it will be ONLY 26 and a half years.
21:50 November 3, 2011 by XFYRCHIEF
Tell you what, for a bargain price of 80,000 EU I'll be more than happy to replace it. I think I have some scrap wood in my garage.
23:09 November 3, 2011 by finanzdoktor
A grease stain worth 400,000 Euros??? Quick dad, get one of your dirty t-shirts and let's sell it as modern art.
23:49 November 3, 2011 by starsh3ro
how can people call that art?!?

thats what it looked like when i was 5 years old and playing with a hammer and nails for the first time, trying to built a house.
02:46 November 4, 2011 by CinemaNoir
When she began cleaning Venus de Milo, the statue had arms.....
09:45 November 4, 2011 by SebastianWoof
This is what happens when artistic interpretation

totally disconnects from reality.

The cleaning lady in her own mind was cleaning

a pile of trash.

God bless her artistic values.
10:21 November 4, 2011 by freechoice
Oh My God! How could this piece of dung worth 800,000 Euros?
11:33 November 4, 2011 by LancashireLad
Didn't they have to specifically engage a cleaner for Marcel Duchamp's "masterpiece" when people thought it was real?
11:46 November 4, 2011 by freechoice
payback time from German taxpayers?
14:51 November 4, 2011 by Englishted
@CinemaNoir

Good one ,did she also arouse David?
17:11 November 4, 2011 by expatriarch
I despise most "contemporary" art, as it just reminds me we live in a world of bull-shlt. I am always up to and open minded to be convinced otherwise. But this "art" is a prime example of the "artist" being celebrated more out of inertia based on other works, or simply because he got a stamp of approval by those who sycophants sustain until the inertia became self-fulfilling. This "art" is the Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian of the art world; famous for nothing more than being banged on camera.
20:55 November 4, 2011 by kjello
I am artist myself and find this incident very funny indeed. I guess this action indicates that what is considered respective and valuable art today only can be understood by people who are trained to understand it value and importance. I guess we are talking about a part of society that has disconnected with most other people on earth. This is actually a reality-check worth every euro, and if you really think of it, this art-piece is finally a real art-piece, reflecting a common interpretation of the common man.
22:15 November 4, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
The cleaning person works in a museum with a bunch of weird looking modern "art". You'd think when she took the job she understood that their so-called "art" might look like a mess that needs cleaning, but know she shouldn't touch it. I bet nobody ever thought she'd be stupid enough to actual do it. I wonder if she's being held responsible?
00:19 November 5, 2011 by johnny108
It looks like a failing grade in a woodshop class.
10:30 November 5, 2011 by LGL
Garbage is garbage no matter what you call it
12:29 November 5, 2011 by George Palmer
What a complete pile of useless trash. How can it be called art?
23:20 November 6, 2011 by wenddiver
I thought it was a frame for tomato vines. I would not have damaged it, just moved it outside.
17:20 November 8, 2011 by twisted
Quoting Kjello - valuable art today only can be understood by people who are trained to understand it value and importance. I guess we are talking about a part of society that has disconnected with most other people on earth. This is actually a reality-check worth every euro, and if you really think of it, this art-piece is finally a real art-piece, reflecting a common interpretation of the common man. Unquote.

Really? I guess if you have to be trained to do something like recognize art, then works of art that people really do like isn't really are because most of the people haven't been trained....What a load of Shi..........
19:12 November 8, 2011 by rwk
Oh, no, people misunderstand...this art piece was the canvas for this person, working under the guise of 'cleaner', who created a NEW work of art. Subtractive art is a cutting-edge post-post-modern concept not well understood by those who don't have an advanced art education. A.C. Johnston's piece 'Inside Interior' , which is formed by the strategic removal of plug-sections of an on Antonov airplane, has been valued at several million euros by curators at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts. A companion piece by Johnston's understudy/partner Melissa McNixty 'Doughnut Holes On A Rope' is adjacent, in which a hemp rope was fashioned around 6cm cylindrical objects, and then the rope stiffened with starch and the cylinders removed, was evaluated at $770,000. These holes are definitely worth seeing.
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