Archive for February, 2010

Destruction and Art

February 27, 2010

1. It’s usually sad to have art destroyed by a natural or un-natural disaster.  The same things that destroy human beings (including artists) also destroy art.  Forces of violence whirl into play: earthquakes, wars, bombings, fires, floods and many others.  Art is often fragile.  It can be withered, even eaten, by time and by the elements.  Artists often have even shorter lives than their creations do.  Yet we withstand and persevere, yes we do.

2.  Many artists destroy their own work.  They disown one style or period.  They can become so disgusted with some of their own work that they want to destroy it.  Than some work may well have been better uncreated.  We love our own “children” too much to realize when they’re mediocre or hopelessly failed.  Yet even the worst art is usually not a true contagious disease.

Harmless art is often its “own reward.”

Picasso:  “No: painting is not there just to decorate the walls of a flat.  It is a means of waging offensive and defensive war against the enemy.”

3.  We destroy, erase, paint over, smash, burn, rip and slap as part of the creative process.  Picasso again: “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”  Among other things, we destroy the sanctity of the beautiful blank paper or canvas, the silence, the quiet, empty air or other innocent surfaces.

4. If the artist often allows parts of their real life to be eaten up by their creative life, is this to a destruction?  I think it’s just the price which often must be paid to be a “real artist.”   Sacrifices go with the territory.  as long as they don’t become morbid or truly ruin someones life, they’re all well and good.

5. Picasso’s also said “We always had the idea that we were realists, but in the sense of the Chinese who said, ‘I don’t imitate nature; I work like her.'”  Artists like to see the way time and nature wear things away.

Tyree Guyton and I spoke of this.   Much of his work’s outdoors, thus exposed to the elements.   This Detroit artist’s had his “art houses” destroyed, bulldozed  by the city many times.

Time and nature are forces which bring us all down yet the they’re the sea we swim in, the air we breathe.

Haiti, Italy, Iraq… (Art is lost, destroyed…)

February 6, 2010

(Second of 3 Parts) 

Last post, I had links to various forms of destruction of art, art as destruction, attacks on art, stupid accidents etc.  

It’s one thing to destroy during the creative process.  Or we accept that it’s OK to destroy your own work (because you believe that it failed or that your new direction cancels your old work, etc.).  There are many examples of artists destroying  their work. 

Then, some people attacking art work are obviously deranged or mentally disturbed.  Better to attack a sculpture, even a great one than another living being, right? 

Then there’s spray painting over one of Picasso’s key works as a “career move” or something!  Some of these anti-art attacks are of interest.  I’ll go into that more next time. 

Mr. Nader's Galerie , where countless artworks perished. (Pooja Bhatia/ WSJ)

This is a photo of a gallery of Haitian art owned by George Nader, Sr.  It was thought to be the largest collection of Haitian art in the world, over 12,000 pieces.  Most of these were destroyed. 

The art lost in Haiti is terrible.  Much of a cultural history was lost.  Also, artists were killed and badly injured. 

Last year, there was an earthquake in Italy.  It wasn’t as deadly, but there were lost and damaged artwork (see the last link below). 

The destruction in Iraq is especially horrible.  First, the Taliban destroyed the large statues of the Buddha.  They were over a thousand years old.  Then, a few years later, the Iraq war broke out and Baghdad’s National Archeological Museum was looted. 

The effects of an earthquake seem unavoidable, even fated.  Yet poverty caused more damage, especially in human life.  An earthquake of similar size causes far less death in wealthier nations.  The structures are stronger.  People aren’t “packed together” as much.  The planning of what to do in a disaster, the preparedness is better. 

Poverty and neglect kill as much as the earthquake does.  

The destruction of the Buddha statues may have been unavoidable.  The looting of the museum however was totally unneccessary, another anti-art move. 

I’m interested in Haitian art and in Iraq’s lost antiquities.  I’m sure others are as well. 

The place where one of the Bamiyan Buddhas stood

The Buddha Statues of Bamiyan, Afghanistan destroyed in 2001: 

The Looting of the Iraq Museum in 2003:,8542,936742,00.html 

A cultural agony in a nation where art is life:,0,5707519.story 

Haiti’s Cultural Destruction: 

Wall Street Journal article on Haitian art: 

Art destroyed in 2009 earthquake in Italy: