Origins of the Aesthetics of Devastation

I’ve already commented on the aesthetics of squalor that has permeated the art world recently and attributed it to Hurricane Katrina…but today I was reading a Dore Ashton essay from 1969 and it made me think twice about the possible origins…Iraq & Afghanistan:

The more perfect the technological death instruments become, the more distracted and frantically bizarre is the production of artists. ((“End of an Age” by Dore Ashton, originally published in Arts Magazine, December 1968/January 1969 and reprinted in The New Art, Gregory Battcock, ed. (New York: Dutton, 1973), p.5))

2 responses to “Origins of the Aesthetics of Devastation”

  1. I can’t find an online version of the Dore Ashton essay mentioned, but if you know of a link that would be helpful in fleshing out “distracted and frantically bizarre,” production, that would be helpful.

    The aesthetics of devastation reminds me of the aesthetics of ruins, infamously conceptualized by Albert Speer:

    (strangely relates to Creative Time’s Tribute in Light)

  2. I can post the article if you like (let me know)…but I believe Ashton is referring to Jean Tinguely and his self-destroying sculpture titled “Homage to New York” (1960).

    The big difference between Speer and the aesthetics of devastation (from what I can see) is that there is no sense of nostalgia involved. This new aesthetic is actually unmonumental (remember that was the name of the New Museum’s inaugural show which featured many works in this vein) which would be in contrast to Speer and his obsession with monumentality and architectural gigantism.

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