Joseph Schumpeter, a famous economist, coined the term “creative destruction,” to describe capitalism. Although economies go through periods of growth and recession, capitalism fosters creativity and innovation, which ultimately produce prosperity.
Robert Rauschenberg, a modern artist, had a different perspective on creative destruction. In 1953, he asked his friend, and respected artist, Willem de Kooning, if he could have one of his drawings, so that he could erase it. Rauschenberg wanted to see if he could create a piece of artwork by erasing a sketch, rather than drawing one.
de Kooning agreed, and the result is Erased de Kooning Drawing, which is now housed at the SFMOMA. Although I struggle to understand most modern art, I think a lot of it can be described as the visual representation of ideas. According to SFMOMA,
“…the power of Erased de Kooning Drawing derives from the mystery of the unseen and from the perplexity of Rauschenberg’s decision to erase a de Kooning. Was it an act of homage, provocation, humor, patricide, destruction, or, as Rauschenberg once suggested, celebration?”
Although I don’t fully understand Rauschenberg’s purpose, I appreciate that success often coincides with the unexpected. Robert Rauschenberg had a unique idea. And much like in capitalism, by taking risks, and by challenging conventional wisdom, Rauschenberg created a piece of art that “stands as a landmark of postwar art.”
I enjoyed learning about this piece of art, but I still prefer to draw than to erase.
P.S. The drawing above is of Joseph Schumpeter. I drew it using pencil, pen, and Chartpak AD Markers.