Dye in the Trevi: Some Romans See Red, but Others Cry ‘Art!’

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One day a vandal, the next an artist. That is the story of the baseball-capped culprit who dumped a bottle of dye into the famed Trevi Fountain here on Friday, turning the waters blood-red for a day.

As soon as it was clear that the 18th-century Baroque fountain had not been seriously damaged, intellectuals and art critics began reconsidering the gesture as something nearing genius.

“Once the indignation had died down, we rediscovered the Fountain of Trevi,” said Roberto D’Agostino, an Italian blogger. “It’s a resurrection of Andy Warhol, the act of highlighting an object of mass consumption.”

A box found near the fountain held leaflets signed “Ftm Futurist Action 2007,” a reference to Futurism, the early 20th-century art movement that advocated a violent break with the past. The fliers said that the act was, in part, a protest of the cost of the Rome Film Fest, which runs until Saturday, and that the color referred to the event’s red carpet.

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