Destroying works of art as a creative process?
March 11, 2008 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Art Filter: MeFites, can you help me compile a list of outstanding artists, any medium, that destroy their work as part of the process?

In particular I am looking for an artist that I saw a clip of on the Anthony Bordane show, "No Reservations". Stats: she is an older woman from Argentina, has worked with Andy Warhol, works with food, tries to demystify art and destroys her work.
Any other artists that destroy their work would be great!
posted by CreativeJuices to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I consider the tibetan monks who create sand mandalas to be artists of the highest order.
posted by headnsouth at 10:27 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

well, there's the whole sandpainting thing ...
posted by scruss at 10:29 AM on March 11, 2008

The Who were known for wrecking their gear at the end of every show in their early part of their career.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:32 AM on March 11, 2008

Any other artists that destroy their work would be great!

You're telling me. Well, I dunno whether this counts, but what about the long and storied tradition of rock stars senselessly destroying perfectly good guitars at the end of a show?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:34 AM on March 11, 2008

Best answer: Christo and Jeanne Claude's environmental installations aren't violently destroyed, but they're ephemeral, and are destroyed in the sense that they are disassembled after a set period of time and never recreated.
posted by mumkin at 10:35 AM on March 11, 2008

Jean Tinguely and Michael Landy are probably relevant. The Believer had a great article about artistic destruction last year.
posted by ourobouros at 10:39 AM on March 11, 2008

Best answer: Andy Goldsworthy, and land artists in general, often counts on natural decay as part of his artmaking. Here's the wikipedia article and a quote from an interview: "Process and decay are implicit."
posted by cocoagirl at 10:53 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, this might strike people as a bit weird, but I believe tattooists do this on a daily basis. Flesh is an extremely temporary canvas that, invariably, is destroyed. Not directly by the artist, but the notion of impermanence is there from the start. Which is why I have an aforementioned mandala variant tattooed on me
posted by slimepuppy at 10:55 AM on March 11, 2008

Best answer: Robert Rauschenburg erased a Willem de Kooning drawing. A lot of environmental artists work is temporary or ephemeral; Andy Goldsworthy springs to mind. Here's a lengthy essay examining destruction and erasure. And here's a blog entry with a lot of links to artists destroying their own work, but most of it, with this exception, seems to be more because they didn't like it or couldn't afford to store it or stuff like that as opposed to destruction being part of the creative process. Huh. I could have sworn I'd come up with more than this when I started looking; I'll be interested to see new answers come in.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:56 AM on March 11, 2008

Response by poster: You guys are so fast!
Many thanks and please keep them coming!
posted by CreativeJuices at 11:00 AM on March 11, 2008

Burning Man artists often do that. I've heard it called "ephemeral art" - designed to be created, appreciated, and destroyed, part of the temporay nature of the whole festival.
posted by elendil71 at 11:00 AM on March 11, 2008

Japanese flower-arranging (well, all flower-arranging) is an ephemeral art. This is not the same as actively destroying one's art, but it is creating art that is known to have a fairly short duration.

So much for ars longa, vita brevis.
posted by adamrice at 11:02 AM on March 11, 2008

Oh yeah, duh, Burning Man. Pretty much all burner events revolve around the creation of an effigy that is burned, as well as other burnable art.
posted by adamrice at 11:03 AM on March 11, 2008

The comic strip Calvin & Hobbes has a brief sequence touching on the idea of decay being implicit in creation when Calvin makes "snow art." Scroll down to the 5th-, 4th-, and 3rd-from-the-end strips on this page. I thought it would give you a laugh while you're thinking about this.
posted by roombythelake at 11:05 AM on March 11, 2008

Kevin Kilroy's "The Silence of Malachi Ritscher" was a play about a musician who committed self-immolation as a protest against the Iraq War. After the tenth and final performance, the script was burned on stage. The play will never be performed again.
posted by Iridic at 11:08 AM on March 11, 2008

As part of Las Fallas de Valencia, over 350 amazing cardboard and wood statues are burned every year.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:21 AM on March 11, 2008

There is a wdespread feeling among Northwest Coast aboriginal groups that it is right and proper, and perhaps, essential, that their art (including the famous, monumental "totem poles") should decay and return to the ground. This sets up interesting conflicts between museum conservators and indigenous people. Essay.
posted by Rumple at 11:22 AM on March 11, 2008

Not quite the same idea, but ambient/avant garde composer William Basinski has released four discs of what he calls The Disintegration Loops. From his Wikipedia entry:

"The recordings are based on old tapeloops which had degraded in quality. While attempting to salvage the recordings in a digital format, the tapes slowly crumbled and left a timestamp history of their demise."
posted by anthom at 11:27 AM on March 11, 2008

Raphael Montañez Ortiz destroys sofas and pianos as part of his work. I guess he's not so much destroying the art, since the art is the destroyed object, but still. Destruction.
posted by yarrow at 11:28 AM on March 11, 2008

The K Foundation was an art institution set up by the members of the band KLF.

They burned a million pounds in cash they earned from their music.
posted by smitt at 11:33 AM on March 11, 2008

Does Gibson's Agrippa count?
posted by rush at 11:54 AM on March 11, 2008

My friend Dominick Fernow, a.k.a. Prurient, took about 50 of his own paintings and destroyed them with a sledgehammer as performance art. Non-rule-breaking self-link: I took photos of this, which you can see beginning with the 5th photo in this set.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:05 PM on March 11, 2008

Felix Gonzalez-Torres had pieces that (I think) fit your description. Piles of candy that viewers were supposed to take pieces from, stacks of paper, etc.
posted by hapticactionnetwork at 12:06 PM on March 11, 2008

Janine Antoni licks and lathers chocolate and soap busts of herself.
posted by hobbes at 1:34 PM on March 11, 2008

Though he didn't do it as a matter of course, Brahms had destroyed many of his own works.
posted by chan.caro at 1:47 PM on March 11, 2008

Hmm. I should have read more carefully. Apologies! >.<
posted by chan.caro at 1:49 PM on March 11, 2008

Fire art, while known for being associated with the Burning Man festival, is by no means limited to that venue.
posted by yohko at 2:34 PM on March 11, 2008

in 1985, Craig Stecyk cast six bronze female torsos and dropped them into the ocean (Deep Six).
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2008

Times Online article: "Nabokov's last novel lies in a Swiss vault, hailed by the few who have read it as his finest work – but before he died he ordered that the manuscript be destroyed. What should his son Dmitri do? Our correspondent reports, and reveals the plotline of the secret masterpiece"
posted by andoatnp at 3:21 PM on March 11, 2008

Response by poster: Ah, MeFites are awesome!

OK, I remembered a little more info, the woman I am looking for:
Older lady from Argentina
Short white hair w/ big glasses.
Has worked with Andy Warhol.
Seeks to "Demystify" art.
Made a giant tower of some type of Spanish desert and the crowd dismantled and ate it.
Works with food a lot but not as a rule.

No matter what, all of you answers are a great help. I have discovered some really great work thru your postings! I really REALLY appreciate it!

*This is my first question to Meta* =)
posted by CreativeJuices at 3:27 PM on March 11, 2008

Lucio Fontana slices slits and pokes holes in his canvas; this isn't a destruction of his art per se, but art created through destruction....
posted by suedehead at 3:58 PM on March 11, 2008

Best answer: Marta Menuine
posted by yarrow at 5:13 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: YES!! Thank you Yarrow!!
posted by CreativeJuices at 7:13 PM on March 11, 2008

« Older Wireless Internet Stops and Starts After SP2...   |   Books that will amuse a bunch of second graders? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.