The news that children are being injured falling into Doris Salcedo’s expanding crevice at the Tate or that Urs Fischer has jackhammered the concrete floor at Gavin Brown Gallery reminds us of Rudolf Clausius’ theorem that the universe is geared towards maximum entropy, the second law of thermodynamics taken to the edge. How cooperative of artists to nudge it along!
To this purpose the paint chips falling off a Clyfford Still or the plates careening from a Julian Schnabel are art of a finer caliber than the paintings themselves, rather like the man in the raincoat who sits at the burlesque watching the underwear on the stage floor instead of the naked breasts above him.
Being a lifelong New Yorker, I share a weakness for rot and am most disturbed by the glass boxes rising all over Chelsea, Tribeca and the East Village until memories of falling Twin Towers jolt me back from temptation. Entropy, artistically, emerges as a matter of degree. A streak of lime across the floor of Gavin Brown slowly eating away at the gallery would be more effective esthetically and conceptually and certainly more symbolic of its proprietor’s effect on the world at large.
Entropy could produce some salutary trends if adopted by the world of art and administered slowly: invitations to touch at high end museums would be the norm. Visitors might be handed paint and brush with admission and invited to augment the stray Picasso, while Sotheby’s specialists chalked up dollar depreciations on the tote board with each stroke. Workmen with crates disassembling exhibitions would replace curators and dealers as art world stars.
Jeff Koons Hanging Heart could be shipped back to the German factory where it was fabricated expertly for a $1 million and polished to a pure patina for weeks on end. Bring on the Brillo pads and start turning the Heart into art. As the price dropped to suitable levels again, Eli Broad might actually buy it!
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).