I suppose that if you leave your art out in the street, you can’t be too surprised if it fails to stay pristine. Even so, the last time I walked along Hollywood Boulevard I was surprised, and maybe shocked and offended, and certainly dismayed, to find that the above mural of Dolores Del Rio had been, so to speak, subverted some rather inelegant tagging. It now looks like this:
Well, who could say they were completely surprised? You might think the solution would be to put the art under transparent plastic, but that seems to be only a partial solution. When I was in London earlier this year, wandering around Fitzrovia, I came upon a Banksy; genuine as far as I could tell. It had started out looking like this:
But when I saw it, it looked like this:
It seems that a certain number of people want to “express themselves” in conjunction with or in opposition to Banksy. In many cases this doesn’t look much different from being jealous and resentful. Arguably the original remains intact but the effect is spoiled, or maybe it isn’t. Banksy is obviously sussed out enough not to be surprised by this kind of thing. Whether that’s the same as welcoming it, I’m not sure.
Want to see an amazingly unconvincing faux Banksy. Then check out this one that was on the front of the Liberal Club in Woking a few years back:
Although of course it does occur to me that it looks so faux that maybe Banksy (subversive that he is) actually did it just to confuse the art lovers and the art haters of Woking.
But sometimes you don’t need human intervention to create change and decay in a mural. Nobody has tagged or vandalized Terry Schoonhoven Isle of California mural in the Sawtelle district of LA , but it’s now the best part of 45 years old. It was created in 1970-2, when it looked like this:
And now it looks like this:
The California sun has been the main agent of destruction here, which again comes as no surprise. But also the wall has been reinforced, which is obviously a good thing – nobody wants the wall to fall down- but the anchors (I think that’s the right term) are evidently made from some kind of ferrous metal, and so each of them has rusted and bled.
As a man who enjoys a little ruin and entropy, as well as art, I find it hard to get too upset about it. I also love walls, whatever state they’re in. Here’s a picture of one I saw earlier, in New York – no sign of rust, but no sign of art either.