Msnowe's Blog

Reflections on Frailty of Art

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on January 26, 2010

She lingers over a particularly intriguing painting, turn of the century. She leans in a bit closer. Often, standing on that yellow strip along the subway tracks, so very close to the edge, how simple it would be to trip, or suddenly decide to hurl oneself into the filthy gap between so many platforms. But that never happens. The inertia of a moment always pushes away from the speeding train, the blackened trench. In an instant, a new reality. Except this wasn’t a subway track, it was a Picasso, and she was tripping and breaking her fall by tearing the right-hand corner of an incredibly expensive piece of art. The paint was the brown water by the tracks, the canvas a soggy discarded box to break her fall, the people rats scurrying by and surrounding her inquisitively like freshly strewn refuse. Was it possible that just happened? The slightest application of pressure, and the canvas gave, as fragile as cheesecloth. Why would one create a lasting image on such a flimsy thing? A guilt at once preposterous (a swatch of canvas!), and simultaneously grave–this is a creature not limited to one life, not a murder or snuffing out of one breathing thing. A cessation of thousands of pondering stares, an empty wall to be visited by hundreds of mourners each day, for as long as the museum stands. A museum mausoleum created by one misstep (“Here used to lie the painting: removed for restoration.”). She has tossed the unfinished manuscript in the flames. Buried the sheet music of unheard symphony. Funny how one forgets that art is physical too, and at moments its legacy is on tenderhooks.  She receives only, “the museum reports no physical injuries to the woman.” The painting was over six feet tall. Now it lays supine, in state, just as imposing.

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