Art of Destruction

Ed Ruscha at the Hirshhorn Museum is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: At the Hirshhorn Museum, Ed Ruscha and others take a refined view of havoc.

(Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC)

Ed Ruscha’s “The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire” (1965–68), went on view today in the thematic show called “Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950”, at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, which I previewed in today’s New York Times. What I particularly like about Ruscha’s piece is that it is utterly Apollonian in its ultra-refined technique, and yet treats a Dionysian moment of disaster. That is, in its essence it pushes back against the sheer love of havoc that some other destructive art tends to channel. Even as some of this show’s artists claim to decry chaos and violence, there’s a risk that they are helping us revel in both. (Christian Marclay’s brilliant “Guitar Drag” plays on just that tension.)

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