Destruction and Art

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.

One Response to “Destruction and Art”

  1. Don Handy (Mud) Says:

    I’m reminded of a line from a Joni Mitchell song: “Chicken scratching for my immortality.”

    The wearing-down of the Spinx in Egypt is an indication that nothing lasts forever. I don’t believe that this is necessarily a bad thing. It seems to me that being exposed to art that is created within one’s own lifetime reinforces the validity of life. If everything has been done or said, then what’s the point of life?

    Tragedy is an unfortunate truth. Yet the beauty of another sunrise is also a universal truth. It seems to me that, as in the cliche that life goes on, so does art. We simply need to be conscious of it.

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