Postcard from... Lugano


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The Independent Online


Quite a few hacks were probably thinking “there but for the Grace of God…” when on Saturday evening in Lugano’s swanky Meno Uno gallery, one of their number made a lunge for a passing nibble but instead knocked over and destroyed a priceless work of art. With the famous Swiss sense of decorum notably absent, “one guest at the preview,” intoned Radio Switzerland (RSI), “caught between a canapé and a chat with someone, unfortunately knocked over a work by Luciano Fabro and smashed it to pieces”.

It is, or rather, it was, the famous Impronta (Imprint) dated 1962-1964. What the RSI report didn’t mention was that one of its own hacks, subsequently nicknamed the “Swiss Mr Bean”, was responsible for the calamity. The sculpture, a opaque glass disk with a central impression of Planet Earth at its centre, was left in thousands of pieces. Ironically, the work was said by the author to represent the longevity of the world.

A spokesman for RSI admitted: “It is no consolation the fact that the insurer was present.” Imprint was made by the Turin-born sculptor Fabro, who died in 2007. As one of the  most celebrated works of the 20th-century Italian Arte Povera movement, experts had said it was difficult to value the piece.