One great thing about teaching at a college is the ability to send esoteric questions over e-mail to the faculty and expect some kind of interesting response.
A few days ago I asked my colleagues whether anyone knew of interesting examples involving damaged art that is deemed by the artist to have been completed or improved in some way by the damage.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Perhaps most importantly, someone reminded me of Duchamp’s name – I recalled the incident from an art history class I once took but couldn’t remember his name.
But I had many other great responses and interesting examples sent to me.
For instance, I learned about auto-destructive art:
Auto-destructive art is art that contains within itself an agent that automatically leads to its destruction within a period of time not to exceed twenty years. http://www.391.org/manifestos/1960metzger.htm
I learned about a British sculptor, Cornelia Parker, who likes to blow things up and put them back together. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelia_Parker
I learned that the architects of the rebuilt de Young museum in San Francsico intended for the gradual corrosion of the copper exterior to be part of the artistic vision. http://deyoung.famsf.org/about/architecture-and-grounds
And many more things.
I also received an opinion about the category in question that concurs with mine. Ruth Beeston said to me:
I think that occurrences like you are seeking- where a work is "enhanced" in the artists' eyes as a result of an accidental or deliberate act by someone else- must be fairly rare. I'd be interested in hearing about any genuine examples you come up with.
I think Ruth is right. It does seem to me that the number of paintings of this type would be very rare.
But I also think that Charlie’s painting is one such instance. Falling Down Man may not be one of a kind; but it certainly is a member of a very small club.
I realize, however, that I haven’t yet made an explicit case for the claim that Charlie’s painting is a member of that club.
In my next post, I will.