'Human error' blamed for Pompidou art destruction

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A breakdown in communication led to the destruction of an American work of art lent to the Pompidou Centre in Paris, it was reported yesterday.

An internal investigation into the accident in which a work of art fell off a wall and shattered has concluded that "human error" was to blame, according to The Art Newspaper. The centre has accepted responsibility and launched an examination of all art-handling procedures, the publication claimed.

The untitled 1971 piece by Peter Alexander - a vertical bar of resin nearly eight feet long - was about to be installed in March when handlers noticed a hanging ring in the back was loose. A restorer glued the ring in place but warned it should be allowed to set for 24 hours. This instruction was "misinterpreted" by a staff member who hung it the same day. It fell from the wall that night.

Bruno Racine, the Pompidou's president, said: "Centre Pompidou assumes total responsibility for this unfortunate incident, which resulted from a desire to protect the work rather than one of negligence." But the internal investigation has failed to establish the cause of another accident in which Craig Kauffman's Untitled Wall Relief (1967) fell off a wall in August.

The upper edge of the work, a convex bubble of acrylic-painted Plexiglas, slotted into a wall-mounted moulding made by the lender, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

It was not clear whether it was the moulding or the way it was attached to the wall that was at fault.

The Pompidou is finalising a financial settlement for both works. The Alexander, lent by the New York dealer Franklin Parrasch, was said to be worth $28,000 (£15,000) and the Kauffman around $60,000.

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