Initial thoughts on the art of erasure…

I was thumbing through an art magazine when i stumbled upon a profile of a European artist who created sidewalk art by sprinkling powdered sugar through a stencil pattern, creating delicate lace patterns across the paving stones in public squares. I’ve been trying in vain to research her name and info because it’s obviously something that has stuck with me since i saw it. (If anyone knows who this is, please leave a comment).

Anyway, she said that the most interesting part of her work was to watch as people walked across the sugar pattern, eroding and smudging it over time. The work contained elements of chance interaction, impermanence, and performance.

Then last week i saw a piece on Scott Wade, the guy who does illustrations in the dusty back windows of cars. He painstakingly works out the illustration, making marks and using fan brushes to create a surprising range of tones. Again he mentions the same satisfaction in watching a Texas rain shower erode his masterworks into oblivion. Seriously, check out these drawings…they’re a hoot.

Erased De Kooning by Robert Rauschenberg

Erased De Kooning by Robert Rauschenberg

The things that stand outs about these and other artists is that their work has the sense of impermanence caused by the act of erasure. Some may think of Rauschenberg’s Erased De Kooning as a famous example of this category, but i think it’s somewhat different, in that Bob’s work still exists and is proudly displayed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Bob had a revolutionary idea and left us a “souvenir of the occasion”, (as Harold Rosenberg would call it), to mark the time and place. Bob is regretfully gone, but his work is a remembrance.

There is a certain honesty and even transparency that comes though when impermanent art is created. It’s kind of like the way you dance when no one’s watching…or the loose freedom you feel when you draw with one of those Zen water easels. This aesthetic freedom and honesty creates a direct connection with the audiences, and allows the artist to present himself with a refreshing degree of transparency.

Think about what it means to erase something…what is the process? What dynamics are created and what kind of statement are you making? I’ll elaborate in a few days, I just wanted to get people thinkin’.

    • Holly
    • October 21st, 2013

    I know this article is very old, but it was Linda Florence, in case you were still wondering

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