Artwork Accidently Identified as Trash

Dana Gilerman
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Dana Gilerman

This week, workers at the Haifa Museum of Art threw out part of Michael Sgan-Cohen's 1981 work, "Coat of Many Colors." The work was to have been displayed at the "Check-Post: Art in Israel in the 1980s" exhibition, which opened this week at the Haifa Museum.

The work, which belongs to Sgan-Cohen's widow, Leora Sgan-Cohen, and is also dedicated to her, consists of two parts: a self-portrait drawn on a tin square and a canvas attached to it with stripes drawn on it. It relates to the biblical narrative as well as to the Holocaust; it deals, among other things, with the formation of Jewish identity in relation to the Holocaust.

Several days before the exhibition's opening this Saturday, there was a planned electricity shutdown and the museum was closed. Only a maintenance crew continued working there. The next day it was discovered that part of the work - the canvas, which was placed on the floor before being hung, folded and wrapped in nylon sheeting - had disappeared. Museum officials realized that the canvas was mistakenly taken away with empty boxes and thrown out.

Nissim Tal, the museum's director, said great efforts were made to find the work, including a search of the municipal garbage dump, which was unsuccessful.

Tal added that he spoke with the widow, "who took it badly because this work is very important to her," he says.

"We offered her the option of recreating the part that was thrown out, so we could display it at the exhibition, but she didn't agree. Afterward, we transferred the matter to the insurance company."

The entire work was insured for $120,000.

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