The Seeds of Destruction –
Art Under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm at Tate Britain
By Jonathan Griffin
Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/seeds-destruction
Statue of the Dead Christ c.1500–20
Stone on a limestone plinth
The Mercers’ Company
Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/article/every-statue-tells-story
2/2/14 – Danielle Pugh
Initially in extending my research from last week’s ‘Can art affect everyone?’ review I intended to look at the way curator’s lay out exhibitions and the purpose behind their choices.
I decided to look at the ‘Art Under Attack’ exhibition at the Tate Britain, I was interested in the exhibition and it’s relation to how art affects certain people.
The curators intention in putting the exhibition together was to convey the compilation of attacks on art over the past 500 years, with regards to why and how they have changed. In order to portray the information they have split the exhibition in to three subject matters, religion, politics and aesthetics.
The religious section looks at the 16th and 17th centuries and particularly the dissolution of the monasteries and the puritan iconoclasm in the Civil War. The political iconoclasm has focused on the attacks of public sculpture. In the last section the exhibition looks at the attacks on contemporary art and artists who use destruction as a creative force.
The article I looked at was more informative about the work shown in the exhibition of art that has been destroyed and become iconic throughout the centuries in the UK.
Gustav Metzger argues with curator Andrew Wilson that it was not an exhibition about iconoclast in the classic sense. He argues that breaking an image does not eradicate it but merely replaces it with another and that deconstruction is part and parcel of creation. Which leaves me to contemplate if broken or damaged artwork should simply be discarded or kept as an iconic powerful warning against violence, political and religious dogma. I think it all depends on the reasons for destruction. I find that the destruction of the pieces bleed energy, which suggests straight away via psychoanalysis the rage and anger or even humour of the protestor, I find it fascinating to research and find out why these actions have occurred and what has influenced them.
This exhibition invites the viewer to visually learn about the history of protest and iconoclasts. Before reading up about the exhibition I was unaware of some of these destructions and I find the passion, which overwhelms someone and compels them to violently destroy a piece of art slightly concerning yet exciting at the same time. The exhibition explores examples of protestant reformists seizing sculpture, ‘Statue of the Dead Christ c.1500–20’ in 1538, suffragette attacks on cultural heritage represented in ‘Sibylla Delphica’ by Edward Burne Jone’s in 1898 and attacked in 1913, Allen Jones’s ‘Chair’ 1969, damaged by feminists in 1986 and work which has been purposely destructed as a creative force by artists such as Yoko Ono and Gustav Metzger.
Overall I became more captivated by the subject of the exhibition and art that stimulates aesthetic outrage as well as the compulsion these people had to physically attack and destroy something as a result of rage built up by their views and opinions which have been influenced by the period they are living in and the faces they are changing.
Art Under Attack –
Press Release –