Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Goodbye Little Friend

Ack! This is hard! I had to choose a drawing to be destroyed by someone else. Talk about heart-wrenching!

Why on earth would I send one of my drawings to someone else to be destroyed?

I've been reading "DeKooning: An American Master" by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan as part of a Twitter book club organized by Alyson Stanfield.

One of the stories is about when Robert Rauschenberg approached Willem DeKooning and asked if he could have a drawing. Rauschenberg intended not to frame and enjoy the drawing, but instead to erase it.

The request from the young artist was bold and admittedly insulting to the middle-aged artist. DeKooning granted the request, although not without making Rauschenberg swirm. It's fascinating to hear Rauschenberg reminisce about the event and the resulting artwork himself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpCWh3IFtDQ

I've been tweeting with Liz Crain (@lizcrain) about this story. We both can destroy our own work when it doesn't live up to our standards. But letting someone else ruin one of our own artworks? Hmmm...

After some thought-provoking discussion, we decided there's only one way to find out -- give it a try. We agreed to swap artworks and re-make them into our own.

Now, I haven't met Liz in person and don't know how old she is, so there's none of this "young upstart vs. established master" tension to our swap. For me, it's about giving up control and letting the artwork have a life of its own.

For my piece, I chose "Purple Music", shown above. It's a small drawing done with Sharpie marker, acrylic paints, and colored pencils on patterned paper. If Liz tries to erase it, it will give her plenty of trouble. ;)

It's a drawing I did this spring and I'm fond of it. DeKooning was fond of the drawing he gave to Rauschenberg, and deliberately chose something he would miss.

I also like that it has a music theme. Music played a huge part in DeKooning's life (remember the $700 record player?) and is a big part of mine.

Knowing that I've sent it off to its demise is tough. It's entirely different than mailing off an artwork to be loved and enjoyed. So, goodbye, little friend, I'm sad to see you go.

Now that it's in the mail, I'm excited to see what Liz is sending me. I'll post pictures of it as soon as it arrives.

So what do you think? Could you let someone erase, alter, or remake one of your artworks?

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