The Subject of Natural Decay in Art

In the 20th century, most artists used materials that seemed new and familiar to them. Therefore, they lacked the chance or opportunity to foresee the degree and the speed of decay that their work was likely to undergo. For this reason, most of the artwork done during this time had just a fraction of the lifespan the previous or earlier periods. However, at the same time, some of the artists used decay as a theme in their work. However, the issue of depicting and showing decay intentionally was controversial, since most of the artists were struggling with ways and means of preserving their work from decaying.

Preventing Natural Decay

To start with, the preservation of artwork objects had two major aspects. One of the aspects was to preserve the materials that had been used in making the objects, whereas the second one was to preserve the original intended meaning of the artwork. While these two remain the areas of focus in the preservation process, challenges arise in some instances. The intentional uses of materials that undergo natural processes of change in the near future bring about the question of the importance of work in the first place, and even the importance of the preservation process. This shows that artists were intentionally showing and introducing decay in their work. Introducing decay seems like a means of emphasizing the need to preserve both material and meaning of artwork. Some of the artists that were made of materials like sugar cannot be disregarded just because the material has undergone decay. This is because food has been increasingly used in artwork since the 1960s. At the same time, the transformation that may occur in such work should be regarded as beauty created by the decay process. Also, the topic of decay was a center of interest for some artists for example Dieter Roth.

Dieter Roth and Natural Decay

Dieter Roth was among the most diverse artists, being a painter, publisher, musician, designer, and sculptor. He was mainly interested in both collecting and archiving work. However, he had difficulties when it came to the conservation processes of the works. He even had sculptors that had been made from edible items including bread, chocolate, yogurt, sugar as well as spices and mince. Apparently, the decay of such substances occurs with time. While he observed the changes in the work, he appreciated the changes in shape, color as well as the molding as a part of creation.