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William Kentridge Mural Vandalized in Rome

South African artist William Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments frieze, located along the Tiber River in Rome, has been vandalized with graffiti, according to a report by ArtDaily. The 1,804-foot-long mural, the largest public art project in Europe, had its official opening in April 2016.

Kentridge said he was at a loss as to why Rome authorities had not removed the graffiti as soon it appeared along the bottom of the mural. Apparently there has been a steadily growing amount of graffiti in the spaces between some of Kentridge’s images. The artist commented on the vandalizing to the Italian daily La Repubblica, saying, “Some graffiti artists do great work. I’m less interested in those who simply leave their initials on the wall . . . I know there are many people in Rome to whom this work is dear . . . Out of respect for them, I hope the city authorities will clean up the graffiti.”

Last Friday, deputy mayor Luca Bergamo ordered a team from the city’s refuse department to start erasing the graffiti, denouncing the authors of it as “stupid.” The artist created the mural, located on the right bank in the Trastevere district, close to Saint Peter’s Basilica, by washing the dirt off the wall around his images in a technique known as reverse stenciling, and the imagery illustrates scenes of Rome’s history throughout the ages. For more on the piece, see Ida Panicelli’s 500 Words with the artist from last April.