The Destruction of Devices

The famous story goes that Jasper Johns destroyed all the pieces he’d made prior to 1955 to start over, creating his new works as encaustics – the target and flag paintings that Leo Castelli put in his gallery subsequently selling them to major NYC art museums…and an art god was born.

http://www.jasper-johns.org/

Recently I read that Jean Michel Basquiat drawings had surfaced and were going on the auction block.  I think they were sketchbook thing-a-ma-bobs, not intended to be shown as potential masterpieces or anything but I guess once you are dead your immortal soul can command millions.

Basquiat drawings

So what’s the right thing to do?  Keep every single thing you’ve ever made – did Picasso do that?  (I think so.)  Or chuck the stuff you think is junk and not representative of your work?

I do this with my clothes all the time.  I give most of my stuff to the Salvation Army.  Sometimes it isn’t even a year old.  I live in a small space and I don’t keep things that I don’t wear.  Like if I don’t think it will ever be my go to for an event, it doesn’t matter how nice it is; it needs to move on.  I regret some of those chucks.  I’d gained some weight a few years ago and thought I’d never get my twenty-five inch waist back so I said good-bye to some pieces that would have transcended time if I would have allowed it.  Oh well.  There are always new clothes out there.  New ideas in shape and fabric that make a person feel current.

discontinued painting 001

If I were immortal, I think I could hack the changes, at least in fashion and art.  In technology, not so much.  So I guess that’s why I choose edit/delete.  The three paintings illustrating this blog post are long gone.

I gessoed over their surfaces because I just didn’t feel good about them.  They were 24″ x 48″ paintings, all framed in maple wood gallery style frames that cost a small fortune once upon a time in the ’90s.

discontinued 3 001

I came across the pictures while hunting for the one of Evangeline Peters.  These three were part of that exhibition I had at the May Memorial Unitarian Church in Dewitt, NY circa I don’t remember.  I want to say 1999.

discontinued 2 001

I kind of miss them, but that might just be the silliness of all of this retrospective melancholy.  This series was born from taking devices from all of the other works of art I had created up until then and placing them into segments puzzle pieced together.  The idea is much like my own life.  It is compartmentalized in such a way that you’d really have to get to know me pretty well to really know me.  And I can’t say that there is a single anyone in the world who truly does know me.

Do we all think that of ourselves?  Do we all wear masks as Billy Joel sings in The Stranger or are some people truly transparent?  I’m not sure.  At any rate, these pieces just didn’t make the cut.  There are portions of them that I feel a connection to and other areas that fall flat.  I have the pictures at least, and if I want to incorporate them somehow into the newbie Futura series this summer then maybe they will in a small way be resurrected.

I plan to reuse the frames so I will replicate these dimensions – and puzzle it out.

2 thoughts on “The Destruction of Devices”

  1. I have done the same thing. At the beginning of this year I burned about twenty five paintings. I already want to destroy about another fifty. Out with the old and in with the new I say. Some of the canvases I paint over if they are smooth but most of the time it’s just best to start fresh. I loved your article and your original style. Every artist has their reason even if some one else does not understand it. All the best Krystyna.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Krystyna! Thanks for your comment and compliment! I originally thought I would paint over them – just build up the surface with more texture, kind of like the city of Pompei. Someone told me that they had read an article about Van Gogh’s paintings being x-rayed only to find hidden old work. But I’m not sure whether I will attempt that or just start fresh. Probably the latter.

    Like

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