Manifesto for the Natural Death of the Work of Art (2001)

by Frieder Rusmann
28th March 2001

– a leaflet of instructions – 

Where is hope, if with advancing age the surface of the skin is increasing like life-experience and starts to ruffle like the surface of a sea does in the first breeze of autumn? Who will smooth the lines of worry? Who will frighten off the crows springing through our face? Not Ellen Betrix. not Oil of Ulay. Friends, throw away crucibles and tubes nicely sorted. Our real hope is art. It will not fade away. Like a good wine it will become better with the passing years. And most wonderful: it grows older without leaving a trace. Let’s look a little enviously in the restoration chambers of the museums. Let’s look up admiringly to the Doctores of Pigment: they have found the secret of everlasting youth. And here we go again and see Leonardo’s smiling slut with 500 year old velvetskin like a peach-botty in the picture-frame.

But, why this? What’s this all for? Why are things preserved, maintained and retouched for Sixtina’s sake?

Don’t let us fool ourselves: The compulsive preservation of art, the complete aesteticizing of everyday life, the permanent re-animation and re-discovery of art-epochs long gone, is only an expression of today’s phobia about age, wrinkles and death. Art as timeless constant is the projection of wishes of a society that does not grow old, it is a Dorian-Gray-Syndrome – only the other way round.

And here the permanent and compulsive restoration of art corresponds exactly to the face-liftings of beauty-surgeons, the preservation of buildings only fit for demolition can be compared to jogging to prevent flubby flesh.

Let’s turn to the Frauenkirche in Dresden: The historical process is reversed and the burnt-out symbol of tyranny is re-idealised with the help of worldwide donations. The Frauenkirche in Dresden is the first global church-steeple policy.

Years ago members of the avant-garde refused the old-fashioned: When Marcel Duchamp drew a beard onto Mona-Lisa’s face he said that art is an old chestnut. Marinetti’s enthusiasm for racing cars hooted death for Nike. Nowadays Nike is a well-fed sports-brand that does everything to prolong the fiction of the sporty youth into the grave.

For: Remaining in a state of puerility is the other side of the coin: Youths and grown-ups go in sizes they can never grow into, even if they grew at the speed of a 6-year old child. Only a short time ago the most trendy sport equipment for the mid-thirties was a scooter while in former times 4-years-olds felt too grown-up for such a thing and loudly demanded for a bicycle.

And of course grown-ups watch nature programmes that dominate every TV-channel and are filling the whole evening.

While art then toyed with the world in a complex way, today it reacts all too devotedly with basic experiences in touching, tasting, seeing, briefly with sense-circles for the everlasting children.

This cannot be true! We have reached the limit! When at the beginning of modern age Rafael was the first monument curator we engaged, we finally after the end of this time have to sign his certificate of discharge speedily. 

We demand:

  1. wrinkles for Mona Lisa
  2. prohibition of art-prints
  3. no more exhibitions of the classic modern art
  4. unobstructed daylight in museums
  5. art-free living
  6. promotion of (it will fade away anyway)
  7. acidic paper
  8. shortening of oil-paint reserves
  9. abolition of the audience
  10. art-pause

 Frieder Rusmann
translated by Gabriele Keltsch

Share this:
tags: ,