To the dustmen of Frankfurt, they were a mess that needed to be cleared from the streets of their spotless city. The yellow plastic sheets were swiftly scooped up, crushed and burned.But the diligence of the rubbish collectors was little consolation to the city's prestigious art academy, which is now ruing the loss of an important work.
To the dustmen of Frankfurt, they were a mess that needed to be cleared from the streets of their spotless city. The yellow plastic sheets were swiftly scooped up, crushed and burned.
But the diligence of the rubbish collectors was little consolation to the city's prestigious art academy, which is now ruing the loss of an important work.
Unknown to the binmen, the sheets were part of a city-wide exhibition of modern sculpture by Michael Beutler, a graduate of Frankfurt's St?del art school.
Thirty of the dustmen are now being sent to modern art classes to try to ensure that the same mistake never happens again.
The head of Frankfurt's sanitation department, Peter Postleb, took responsibility for the destruction of the sculpture, saying that confusing the plastic sheets with rubbish was an easy mistake to make. He thought they were abandoned building materials.
Mr Postleb said he noticed the pile as he was driving through the city. It was raining, which didn't make things any easier, he said. "As the weather was bad I thought it was construction workers who had dumped their materials on the street and called my people to come and take it away," he said.
"I didn't recognise it as art and there was no sign or anything to show it was art."
He only realised his mistake a few days later when he read about the exhibition in a local paper. "I instantly called the depot, but they told me that it had already been thrown into the incinerator," he said.
The exhibition is due to finish at the end of the week and Mr Postleb has offered to clear away the other nine sculptures at his own expense.
The monthly "Check Your Art Sense" lessons, which start on Sunday, will involve the dustmen being shown two pictures: one from the museum's permanent exhibition and another lesser-known work from the archive. Then they will be asked to discuss the differences between them.