In yet another example of the nonsense that is “modern art,” a 91-year-old woman has been left off with a caution after filling in a crossword puzzle at Nuremberg’s Neues Museum—only to find out that it was an “artwork” valued at €80,000.
The nonsense “art” is the work of “Fluxus” artist Arthur Köpcke (1928–1977). Fluxus is a made-up art movement of the 1960s which consisted of conmen jamming together bits of random different materials and then selling it to the “intellectual classes” as art.
The “artwork” in question consists of a shabby crossword puzzle cut out from an old newspaper, pasted onto a scratched black background and titled “Reading-work-piece.” Next to it is a sign which reads: “Insert words.”
Strangely, this nonsense is apparently highly prized, and is currently on loan to the Neues Museum from a private collector, who has it insured for $89,000.
It is probably just as well, because when the 91-year-old visitor to the museum saw the “instructions,” she took it literally and started filling in the crossword puzzle.
The elderly lady was part of a group visit to Nuremberg’s Neues Museum, where the work is displayed. She explained to police that she was simply following the instructions.
“The lady told us she had taken the notes as an invitation to complete the crossword,” a police spokesman said.
If the museum didn’t want people to follow the artist’s instructions, they should put up a sign to make that clear, she told police.
Eva Kraus, the museum director, said the damage was not permanent and would probably be relatively easy to repair.
“We do realize that the old lady didn’t mean any harm,” she said. “Nevertheless, as a state museum we couldn’t avoid making a criminal complaint. Also for insurance reasons we had to report the incident to the police.”
The private collector who presented the work to the museum took the incident in good humor, she said.
Restoring the work is expected to cost a few hundred euros and the museum will bear the expense.
The museum said that in future it would alter the label for the work to make it clear visitors were not permitted to fill in the blanks.