A sharp sound echoed through the Nieuwe Kerk church in Amsterdam on Sunday, the last day of a Jeff Koons exhibition at the 15th-century site, after a visitor placed a fingertip on a hand-blown glass ball by the artist, immediately breaking the orb. The small blue sphere was part of Koons’s Gazing Ball (Perugino Madonna and Child with Four Saints) (2014-15), which featured a gazing ball placed on an an aluminum shelf jutting out from a copy of the altarpiece painting by Pietro Perugino. While the artwork invites visitors to come close in order to gaze, the only indicator that a safe distance should be respected was a piece of tape on the ground.
Koons previously stated that a visitor would have to “lift the ball up for it to go anywhere,” ARTnews reported in 2015, due to what the publication described as a “metal rod coming up through the center of each ball.” But the shattered silver insides of the orb strewn across the floor of the Amsterdam church prove at least some are easier to dislodge. While the value of the artwork has yet to be released, Hyperallergic reported that the church is currently working with Koons’s studio to “assess the damage, as well as the possibility of repair.”