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Oh, just use your imagination

It was, critics agreed, the perfect coming together of size, shape, texture, and mood. What was? Well, the controversial new piece in the Royal Academy's summer exhibition in London. OK, the critics didn't really say that. In fact, they were as puzzled as everyone else by the work labeled as sculptor David Hensel's "One Day Closer to Paradise." What he submitted for display was a stylized human head, tilted far back, eyes squinched shut and mouth wide open in a macabre laugh – resting on a slab of slate, technically known as a plinth. But what greeted museum-goers was only the plinth, with a small length of wood in roughly the shape of a bone centered on top. The head, which was designed to be supported by the piece of wood, was nowhere to be seen. Or, as a spokeswoman for the academy put it, "The head has been safely stored, ready to be collected by the artist." The academy takes the position that its decision as to artistic merit was made without the head because Hensel had shipped the various elements separately. Not so, he says; all were delivered at the same time. But he professes not to be insulted . "I'm actually amused," he told The Guardian newspaper. "It shows up not just the tastes of the selectors, but also their unawareness."

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