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Man stabs 'crap' Hitler painting with screwdriver at Museo Di Salo in Italy

A 40-year-old man armed with a screwdriver has attacked a painting hanging in an Italian art gallery. The curator of the museum says the work is garbage but it shouldn't be censored.

An oil painting by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was attacked by a man with a screwdriver in Italy this week.

The man was enraged at seeing the work of the Nazi leader hanging in a gallery, the museum said. The picture was hanging in Museo Di Salo as part of an exhibition about madness.

"Museo della Follia (Museum of Madness): from Goya to Bacon," is a traveling exhibition curated by art critic and curator Vittorio Sgarbi who said Hitler's work was garbage.

"It's a piece of crap, it's a painting by a desperate man ... You don't see greatness but you see misery here," Sgarbi told Italian news agency ANSA. "(It) is not the work of a dictator but that of a wretch, it reveals a profoundly melancholy soul."

Read more: Hitler paintings on auction - who buys them?

The dictator supposedly submitted the image as part of his application to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, from which he was twice rejected. Hitler wrote about the director of the school in his antisemetic autobiography Mein Kampf: "That gentleman assured me that the drawings I had submitted incontrovertibly showed my unfitness for painting, and that my ability obviously lay in the field of architecture." 

Read more: How 'degenerate art' purges devastated Germany's museums

'S***head'

A 40-year-old man attempted to stab the painting with a screwdriver while shouting "s***head" before fleeing the Lake Garda museum, the museum said. The director of the museum Giordano Bruno Guerri said the picture would stay on display.

"Our exhibition would not be complete without showing insanity," ANSA quoted him as saying.

The painting escaped relatively unscathed. The owner, a private collector in Germany, decided not to pursue charges after examining the damage. The unnamed painting, which measures about 35 by 40 centimeters (14 by 16 inches), shows a seemingly endless flight of space in dark earthy tones. In the foreground a man sits at a table and a figure leans against a door frame, both looking despondent. It bears the signature "Adolf Hitler" in the lower right.

Curator Sgarbi condemned the attack, saying on Facebook that works such as this should be viewed "with contempt and distance," but "without reproducing the censorship and hatred expressed by the dictatorships."

aw/rt (KNA, dpa)

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