Marina Abramovic unhurt after attack

Michael Loccisano  Getty Images for HBO

Michael Loccisano Getty Images for HBO

Performance artist Marina Abramović has met with a man who attacked her with a portrait of herself in Florence on the weekend. When she later confronted her attacker and asked why he'd done what he'd done, he reportedly responded, "I had to do it for my art".

But her retrospective, called "Cleaner" spanning almost half a century of creative research, opened in Florence until mid-January. He said this in Instagram. In video of the violent encounter, the man can be seen bringing the painting down on Abramovic, shocking the crowd. "He came forward, staring me straight in the eyes, and I smiled thinking that it was a present for me", she told the Times.

The man in question has been identified as Czech-born aspiring artist Vaclav Pisvejc. "You know, danger always comes very quickly, like death".

It is not the first crime he has been accused of, after he was arrested for vandalising a statue by the Swiss artist Urs Fischer with spray paint in the central Piazza della Signoria. When Abramović confronted the man, who she says she had never met before, he told her "I had to do it for my art "For me, it is hard to understand and process violence", Abramović says. I was also a young, not famous artist, but I never hurt anyone".

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Her own artistic pursuits often hew toward the unconventional, but it's alarming that Abramović was assaulted by a person who was then afforded the chance to validate his actions on the grounds of creative expression. "But this is my decision and I set the conditions".

"For me, it is hard to understand and process violence", she said.

She has until 2020 to prepare for the piece.

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