May 14, 2014 - Mudam Luxembourg - Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950
May 14, 2014

Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950

Arnold Odermatt, Buochs, 1965. © Urs Odermatt. Courtesy Galerie Springer, Berlin.

Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950
12 July–12 October 2014

Mudam Luxembourg
Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean
3, Park Dräi Eechelen
L-1499 Luxembourg-Kirchberg

T +352 45 37 85 1
F +352 45 37 85 400
info [​at​]

Destruction has played a wide range of roles in contemporary art—as rebellion or protest, as spectacle and release, or as an essential component of re-creation and restoration. Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950, on view at Mudam Luxembourg from July 12 through October 12, 2014, offers an overview, if by no means an exhaustive study, of this central element in contemporary culture. Featuring approximately 90 works by nearly 40 international artists, and including painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, film, video, installation and performance, the exhibition presents many of the myriad ways in which artists have considered and invoked destruction in their process.

While destruction as a theme can be traced throughout art history, from the early atomic age it has become a pervasive cultural element. In the immediate post-World War II years, to invoke destruction in art was to evoke the war itself: the awful devastation of battle, the firebombing of entire cities, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan, and, of course, the Holocaust. Art seemed powerless in the face of that terrible history. But by the early 1950s, with the escalation of the arms race and the prospect of nuclear annihilation, the theme of destruction in art took on a new energy and meaning. In the decades since, destruction has persisted as an essential component of artistic expression. Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 offers an overview of this prevalent motif. 

Many of the earlier works in the exhibition directly record nuclear bombs or their aftermath, or use such documentation as a starting point for broader commentary. The use of found film, television, and photography as a source expanded more widely in the 1960s as the importance of media coverage of disasters on a cataclysmic or everyday scale increased. Other artists adopted more conceptual or symbolic approaches to address the potential for destruction in the world or as a reaction to social conventions. Destruction has also been employed as a means of questioning art institutions or challenging the very meaning of art itself. In many of the artworks on view, regardless of time period, medium, or intent, the desire to control destruction or to emphasize the integral relationship between construction and destruction is central.

But whether as rebellion or protest, as spectacle and release, or as an important facet of re-creation and restoration, it is apparent that for generations of artists internationally, destruction has served as an essential means of considering and commenting upon a host of the most pressing artistic, cultural, and social issues of our time.

Artists: Ai Weiwei, Roy Arden, John Baldessari, Walead Beshty, Monica Bonvicini, Mircea Cantor, Vija Celmins, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Bruce Conner, Luc Delahaye, Thomas Demand, Sam Durant, Harold Edgerton, Dara Friedman, Ori Gersht, Jack Goldstein, Douglas Gordon, Mona Hatoum, Larry Johnson, Yves Klein, Michael Landy, Christian Marclay, Gordon Matta-Clark, Steve McQueen, Gustav Metzger, Juan Muñoz, Laurel Nakadate, Yoshitomo Nara, Arnold Odermatt, Yoko Ono, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Pipilotti Rist, Thomas Ruff, Ed Ruscha, Joe Sola, Jean Tinguely, Shōmei Tōmatsu, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol

Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 is organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, in association with Mudam Luxembourg and Universalmuseum Joanneum/Kunsthaus Graz and is curated by Kerry Brougher and Russell Ferguson.

The international tour of Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 received major funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art, and is also made possible through generous support from the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and the Japan Foundation.

Main partner of the exhibition at Mudam Luxembourg: SES

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Lee Bul
5 October 2013–9 June 2014

Press inquiries
presse [​at​] / T  +352 45 37 85 633


Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950 at Mudam Luxembourg
Mudam Luxembourg
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