Artwork Z

Artwork Z

Artwork Z – Project about lost / damaged / neglected / forgotten and vanishing artworks [English working title]
Coordination: Waldemar Pranckiewicz

The project undermines the general notion that artworks left unwatched last forever and then suddenly rediscovered can be put on a pedestal or the museum wall in a full glory. The process of disintegration is a part of every artwork; in addition, every piece or series is involved in a very specific set of circumstances and conditions.

The main objective of the project is to show different patterns and scenarios of disappearances, destructions or neglects happen to various types of art. Following situations will be taken into account: unintentional accidents, simulated destructions, cases of disappearances, ideological interventions, institutional and individual negligence. The project will also investigate the issue of storage and archiving of artworks.

The result of the study will be published and additionally a series of visual works will be made.

List of artists and cases related to the subject (last update – Feb 2012).

  • Iconoclasm in ancient and modern art, one of recent examples: destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001.
  • Loss and damage caused by armed conflicts and war looting, cases of following artists: Katarzyna Kobro, Gustav Klimt.
  • The strategy of destruction as a way of articulation (including the use of the process of degradation),  cases of following artists: Robert Rauschenberg, Dieter Roth, Gordon Matta-Clark, Martin Kippenberger, Monika Sosnowska, Zbigniew Libera, Tomasz Sikorski, Hollis Frampton, Adam Marczynski, Wolf Vostell (DĂŠcollage), Gustav Metzger, Destruction in Art Symposium in London, 1966.
  • Accidents and disasters and their effect on art, cases of following artists: Marcel Duchamp, Bas Jan Ader, fires, floods.
  • Deliberate destructions, unintentional damage and negligence towards art, cases of following artists: Jacob Epstein, Naum Gabo, Martin Kippenberger, Kijewski/Kocur, Zbigniew Libera, Richard Serra, Alexander Rodchenko, Waldemar Pranckiewicz, Richard Prince.

Suggestions are very welcome. Please contact via e-mail:
I am very interested in written and visual materials related to the subject; I am open to meet in person, talk over the phone or the Internet if necessary.


– Gamboni, Dario, The Destruction of Art, Iconoclasm and Vandalism since the French Revolution, Reaktion Books, 1997

– Failure, edited by Lisa Le Feuvre, Documents of Contemporary Art series, Whitechapel Gallery and The MIT Press, 2011

– Stiles, Kristine, The Story of the Destruction in Art Symposium and the “DIAS affect”. Published in Sabina Breitwieser, ed., Gustav Metzger. Geschichte Geschichte (Vienna & Ostfildern-Ruit: Generali Foundation and Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2005). p. 41-65.

– Katarzyna Kobro 1898 – 1951, Henry Moor Institute, Leeds, 1999