Archive for November, 2015

Permanent Art

November 30, 2015


I was just reminded that Marc Chagall lost a huge portion of his art.

According to the book The Crazy Years: Paris in the Twenties by William Wiser:

“All his (Chagall’s) prewar paintings were missing–stolen, destroyed, or sold for a few sous.  Several were later found in a garden behind La Ruche: the wartime concierge had been using them as roofing for a rabbit hutch: they kept out the rain because of the oil paint on them.”

At least one Vincent Van Gogh painting was used to patch a hole in a chicken coop.

Some aspects of art’s fragility are a bit sad.

I can celebrate and appreciate ephemeral art.  Yet I hope that some of my work lasts.  I hope that the best of the work I see around me lasts.  My friends and associates in the Detroit area art scene include plenty of true artists who create solid and challenging work.

What will come out in the wash?  What will be judged to be important and valuable work in the future?

I’m sure that many of today’s “big names” will be forgotten in 2115. Today’s stars and top sellers may be tomorrow’s footnotes.

Will digital archives last?  How permanent are they?  Will the world as we know it last?  Will a kinder and wiser human civilization emerge?

To the degree that one does, some sort of permanent art will exist. Culture feeds the mind and soul.  Books, drawings, sculptures, movies, paintings and performances all live in our hearts.

They live one way while we are experiencing them.  They live another way in our thoughts and memories. Yet yes, they live.


"Uninspired" from August 2005

“Uninspired” from August 2005

Related materials:

On the fate of Vincent Van Gogh’s portrait of Dr. Rey:

“Although it’s a good likeness, it seems Dr. Rey didn’t much care for it, and left it with his mother, who used it to cover a hole in the chicken coop. It was bought by an artist in 1901 (I wonder how he found it?) and now hangs in a museum in Moscow.”   –from a 2010 post at this website:…/the-sad-arles-hospital

On Marc Chagall’s lost paintings:

The Crazy Years: Paris in the Twenties by William Wiser c. 1983; cited here above, page 100.

Is this permanent?

Future Shock: