Agam deplores Tel Aviv for painting over fountain's tiles

The fountain's designer says the artwork is ruined and neglected by the municipality.

Agam Fountain 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Agam Fountain 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yaacov Agam, the artist of the famous fire/water fountain in Dizengoff square, declared Saturday "the fountain is not an Agam piece anymore" after a contractor repainted the tiles. The contractor, hired by the Tel Aviv Municipality, painted some of the fountain's tiles white instead of the colors originally chosen by Agam, an internationally renowned artist famous for his subtle color variations. "When Marcel Duchamp painted a moustache on the Mona Lisa, he made a new piece out of it," Agam said sadly over the weekend. "So now, the fountain is not an Agam piece anymore," he told Channel 10. "Next time we repaint, we will return to the original colors," a municipality representative promised. But Agam was frustrated with more than just the contractor: He claims the municipality has been neglecting his piece for years. "When [the fountain] was in its peak, people would come from all over the world to see it, newly married couples came to have their picture taken by it. Now, look at this," he said, pointing to empty bottles of soft drinks floating in the fountain, lewd graffiti on its rim and a miserable trickle of water which in bygone times reached several meters into the air. "I asked [Tel Aviv Mayor Ron] Huldai [why the fountain was being neglected], and he said to me: 'I don't understand art, I have advisers for this.' This man is the mayor?" Agam asked angrily. "He should perhaps be a school principal." The municipality spokesman said the city was "doing the utmost to save and conserve the fountain." In the meantime, new proposals to lower the elevated square back to street level have been floated. If these plans come to fruition, the fountain will probably be relocated to a different part of Tel Aviv.