Art destruction  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Art destruction involves the damaging or destruction of works of art. This can happen through a natural process, an accident, or deliberate human involvement.

See art vandalism


Natural destruction

All physical works of art are slowly affected and degraded by the natural elements. Some may survive long enough to allow the slow processes of erosion to act on them. Works of art may also be destroyed by natural disasters.

  • The Great Sphinx of Giza is slowly eroding. Most experts believe it is a natural process, but some believe acid rain is accelerating the process.
  • It is estimated that tens of thousands of works of Japanese art dating as far back as the 13th century were destroyed in the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake and the ensuing firestorm that destroyed much of central Tokyo.
  • 1,400 artworks were damaged beyond repair in the November 4, 1966, floods that devastated Florence, Italy, including Cimabue's The Crucifixion.
  • Ribeira Palace destroyed during 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Inside, the 70,000-volume royal library as well as hundreds of works of art, including paintings by Titian, Rubens, and Correggio, were lost. The royal archives disappeared together with detailed historical records of explorations by Vasco da Gama and other early navigators. Royal Alcazar of Madrid destroyed by fire on the Christmas Eve of 1734 with its gallery (Velazquez, Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, etc.)

Accidental destruction

Many works of art have been damaged or destroyed by accident.

Intentional destruction

Of artwork designed to be destroyed

Many works of visual art are intended by the artist to be temporary. They may be created in media which the artist knows to be temporary, such as sand, or they may be designed specifically to be destroyed. Often the destruction takes place during a ceremony or special event highlighting the destruction. Examples of this type of art include:

Festivals where artwork is destroyed:

Of artwork not designed to be destroyed

Other works of art may be destroyed without the consent of the original artist or of the local community. In other instances, works of art may destroyed by a local authority against the wishes of the outside community. Examples of this include the removal of Diego Rivera's Man at the Crossroads mural from the Rockefeller Center and the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamyan statues by the Taliban government.


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Art destruction" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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