Painting by Hitler at Italian museum attacked by screwdriver-wielding man

An oil painting by Adolf Hitler on display in an Italian museum suffered minor damage Thursday after a man attacked it with a screwdriver.

A spokesperson for the Museum of Salo, east of Milan, said that the middle-aged man shouted “Bastard,” before lunging at the untitled painting, which is being shown publicly for the first time in an exhibition on the theme of madness, the BBC reported.

The attacker caused minimal damage to the painting before he was chased away by security guards and fled the scene. The painting was repaired and returned to the exhibit.

In his autobiography “Mein Kampf,” Hitler describes how his aspirations of becoming an artist ended when his application to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna was rejected twice, first in 1907 and again in 1908.

The exhibit, on display near the shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy, is entitled “Museum of Madness, from Goya to Bacon.” It is curated by Vittorio Sgarbi, who said that although the undated painting has little artistic merit, it gives insight into the mind of the German dictator.

“It’s a piece of crap, it’s a painting by a desperate man,” he said. “It could have been done by Kafka. It says a lot about (Hitler’s) psyche. You don’t see greatness, but misery,” Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported.

The oil painting measures 30 by 40 centimeters (12 by 16 inches) and depicts two men standing in front of a long series of dark doorways.

“It is not the work of a dictator but of a wretch. It reveals a profoundly melancholy soul,” Sgarbi said.

Sgarbi justified the inclusion of Hitler’s artwork, saying that it was ideal for a display about madness.

“The exhibition is all about madness and this painting is perfect – nothing is as crazy as war,” Sgarbi said.

The museum’s director, Giordano Bruno Guerri, felt the incident added to the theme of the exhibition. “An exhibition of madness would not have been complete without an episode of madness taking place,” he said.

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