Attenzione l’arte corrompe

Caution Art Corrupts

Achtung Kunst korrumpiert

Attention l’art corrompe

CR 1. Year 1968

Wv 1 J Gerz Attenzione Larte Corrompe

Attenzione l’arte corrompe

A condensation of the spirit of '68, a movement in which Gerz, a resident of Paris, took an active part, this minimal anarchist gesture did no damage to the monuments, but urged people to see them as instruments of alienation.... Jochen Gerz started in the street, the site of both revolution and repression, where life takes place.

Bojana Pejic 1992

Jochen Gerz’s first work for public space also remains among his best known. It counts as the emblematic gesture, the symbolic act that seems most tellingly to express the artist’ s attitude... It was in fact in 1968, the year of uprisings and new departures, that he pasted a small sticker with the words Caution Art Corrupts onto Michelangelo’ s David in Florence, and thereby laid the cornerstone for creative activities which consciously attempt to stand apart from categories, and which dare to formulate interventions that respect no strict separation of genres. Caution Art Corrupts is a work that addresses art while also extending beyond it: a single sentence, a single gesture, which makes it clear that the conditions for art in the era after 1968 can no longer be retrieved from art alone.

Marion Hohlfeldt 1999

The David, icon of art history raised high on a pedestal exemplifies, according to Gerz, the superiority of Art and its detachment from human reality. Its height obliges the visitor to gaze upward in the attitude of subjection and passive submission commonly assumed in facing power and dictatorship. But profanation takes place on another level: by ‘ playing’ with a small device, the sticker, the artist nullifies the sculpture’ s status as copy and makes it an original to all effects, a work of art that belongs to the present, establishes a relationship with the past and opens our eyes to the contemporary. Preference for a public site, for anonymity, for temporality, were to be constant factors in Gerz’ s work, indicative of his firm decision to create and collocate his work outside of any institution.

Marcella Anglani 2012

​Performance / Work in public space

Stickers (ink on gummed paper) Number of copies unknown, each 8 x 12.5 cm Poster (ink on paper), 70 x 100 cm

Stickers with the text Attenzione l’arte corrompe are adhered to the portal of the cathedral in Florence, the doors of the Baptistry and the pedestal of Michelangelo's David. The same stickers in German, English and French are used at other locations later. A poster campaign takes place 1969 in Basel. The sticker is an edition (731, 775). As most of the interventions in public space in the 60’ s and early 70’s, this work was not commissioned.


Firenze 1968. Fiumalbo 1968. Anfo 1968. Basel 1969. Swansea 1970. London 1970. Grottaglie 1972. Taranto 1972. Taranto 1976

Exhibition of the documentation

Düsseldorf 1990 (Zürich 1990). Bolzano 1999 (Kiel, Windsor Ontario, Tønder 2000). Barcelona 2001


I: Basel 1969/2, pp. 38-39. Neuwied 1971, p. 46. Roma 1973, p. 7. Karlsruhe 1975a, pp. 12-13, 110-111. Paris 1975a, pp. 12-13, 49. Taranto 1976, p. 84. Luzern 1979, p. 43. Bielefeld 1981, p. 84. Calais 1986, p. 19. Düsseldorf 1988, p. 101. Bonn 1989a, p. 164. Düsseldorf 1990, p. 71. Darnétal 1991, p. 44. Essen 1991, pp. 4-5. Gütersloh 1993a, p. 325. Vancouver 1994,pp. 17, 34-35. Regensburg 1995a, p. 226. Saint-Etienne 1995, p. 157. Bolzano 1999, pp.40-43. Zürich 2000 p. 100.                                        

II: Red. 9, p. 13. Re. 10, 1972, p. 1418. Gatard 1978, pp. 33-34. Drateln 1991, p. 24. Koenneke 1991, p. 23. Pejic 1992, p. 76. Cunoldi 1993, p. 29. Agboton-Jumeau 1994, p. 42. Campbell 1994, pp. 22-23. Wagner 2, 1994. Fleck 1995, p. 78         

III: Rogendörfer 1990, p. 225. Raguez 1994, p. 30. Baker 2001, p.27-29              

V: Vostell 1970, p. 13. Molderings 1985, p. 200. Hesse 1995.Widrich 2014, pp. 158-160. Anglani 2012, p. 93 

VI: Klepht 1970, p. 16. Magazin Kunst 52, 1973, p. 100. The Event Horizon 1987, p. 272

Access general bibliography


b/w photograph, 124 x 82 cm

My name is Jochen Gerz