Auto-destructive art

Auto-destructive art

Auto-destructive art is a term invented by the artist Gustav Metzger in the early 1960s and put into circulation by his article Machine, Auto-creative and Auto-destructive Art in the summer 1962 issue of the journal Ark. From 1959, he had made work by spraying acid onto sheets of nylon as a protest against nuclear weapons. The procedure produced rapidly changing shapes before the nylon was all consumed, so the work was simultaneously auto-creative and auto-destructive.

In 1966, Metzger and others organised the Destruction in Art Symposium in London. This was followed by another in New York in 1968. The Symposium was accompanied by public demonstration of Auto-destructive art including the burning of Skoob Towers by John Latham. These were towers of books (skoob is books in reverse) and Latham's intention was to demonstrate directly his view that Western culture was burned out.

In 1960, the Swiss artist Jean Tinguely made the first of his self-destructive machine sculptures, Hommage a New York, which battered itself to pieces in the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Pete Townshend of the Who would later relate destroying his guitar on stage to auto-destructive art.

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