Garish sculpture went unnoticed by authorities for two months
The mysterious pseudo-Mondrian steel sculpture is expected to be removed from its site between the Aventine and the Cricus Maximus, following the negative publicity generated by a scathing review in the Art Tribune, Italy's respected art website, on 27 January.
The following day the under-secretary at Italy's culture ministry Ilaria Borletti Buitoni tweeted "The sculpture in question has no authorisation, we have requested its removal."
In an embarrassing revelation for city authorities, Rome artist Francesco Visalli revealed that the 3-m brightly coloured sculpture was installed in November and went unnoticed for two months, despite its central location overlooking the Palatine and its proximity to the town hall.
The artist said that he delivered the two-ton sculpture on a truck at 03.00 on the night of 24-25 November and installed it while his co-workers diverted traffic with the appropriate road signs and lights.
Entitled Homage to Mondriaan, the two-sided sculpture features 3-D renderings of 22 geometric shapes by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, and is mounted on a base of fake ivy.
Visalli says his intention was to test the attention of the city administration: "I had hoped that the work would be "discovered" after a few days. With sadness for Rome, I see that it took two long months."
The city's culture councillor Flavia Barca confirmed that the mayor's office was unaware of the monument and that no permit had been sought for its installation. She said the reason it went unnoticed may have been because "Rome is a city extraordinarily rich in art and culture, and it can happen that people go past an art work with asking why it was placed there."