The Destruction of Art: Iconoclasm and Vandalism since the French Revolution (Picturing History)
Last winter, a man tried to break Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain sculpture. The sculpted foot of Michelangelo’s David was damaged in 1991 by a purportedly mentally ill artist. With each incident, intellectuals must confront the unsettling dynamic between destruction and art. Renowned art historian Dario Gamboni is the first to tackle this weighty issue in depth, exploring specters of censorship, iconoclasm, and vandalism that surround such acts.
Gamboni uncovers here a disquieting phenomenon that still thrives today worldwide. As he demonstrates through analyses of incidents occurring in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America and Europe, a complex relationship exists among the evolution of modern art, destruction of artworks, and the long history of iconoclasm. From the controversial removal of Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc from New York City’s Federal Plaza to suffragette protests at London’s National Gallery, Gamboni probes the concept of artist’s rights, the power of political protest and how iconoclasm sheds light on society’s relationship to art and material culture.
Compelling and thought-provoking, The Destruction of Art forces us to rethink the ways that we interact with art and react to its power to shock or subdue.
Modify slightly – a bicycle wheel, a bottle-drier, and later (to mention only the ‘pure’, more or less untransformed ones) a snow-shovel, a steel comb, a typewriter cover, a porcelain urinal (illus. 57), a coat- and hat-rack, a glass ampoule. Among the ‘rectified Readymades’ were two photomechanical reproductions, one of a winter landscape, the other of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa (illus. 113). Most of them later disappeared and were replaced by fresh examples of the same objects; pointing this out,.
Exposed. Matters of dissent have also been distinctions between ‘public speech’ and ‘private speech’ or ‘political’ and ‘non-political’ (especially ‘commercial’) speech as a basis for establishing degrees in the public interest to protect, and thus in the right to protection. State interests such as avoiding ‘offensive’ art, ‘obscene’ art, or provocative art ‘inciting violence’, have been continuously put forward to justify demand or imposition of restrictions on artistic speech, with special.
As cowardly blockheads. While acknowledging the ‘incomprehension of the public’, the journalist who specialized in double (and confused) language affirmed that ‘to go beyond and destroy or set fire to a work, that is a senseless – because anonymous – gesture’.27 The same author defined the unknown destroyers as ‘those who, in life, will never be able to “sign” their works’. ‘Vandalism’ was thus revealingly defined as the infamous reverse of artistic creation, with a symmetrical correspondence.
Improvements, and we may be happy if one does not compel us to applaud the blind execution of orders to set houses in a straight line, of laws of dispossession for public purposes, and the brutal direction of railways, these marvels of civilization’.10 An important aspect of ‘material improvements’ concerned sanitary conditions, particularly in working-class neighbourhoods. Insalubrity was associated with marginality, and together with the adaptation of the city to the new means of transportation.
Varies, and certainly matters, is the kind, extent and duration of this transformation. As far as ‘bad treatments’ are concerned, and taking into account the possible discrepancy between intention, effect and judgement, it may be better to call them ‘misuse’, as the term makes clear that it is but a kind of ‘use’, and that the distinction between ‘misuse’ and ‘use’ depends on what is defined as ‘proper use’ at any time, for any object, for any person and in any circumstance. A second point that.