Staff Picks

5 Gorgeous Images Of Destruction

Here’s a little art interlude to take your mind off presents you need to return, New Year’s dresses you need to buy and last-minute end-of-the-year tasks you should probably be doing.

D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum has an equally stunning and disturbing exhibit up: “Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950.” Destruction, the exhibit write-up reads, “has persisted as an essential component of artistic expression.” The show features interpretations of the motif from more than 40 artists from all over the nation, and the pieces include photographs, video, found art and more. The works span from World War II to today, with acts of destruction big and small.

The portraits of disaster are varied and vast — there’s everything from a piano being shattered to pieces to video of a young girl which the World Trade Center collapse into a tower of smoke from a distance. The visual beauty of the different works reveal our own fascination with disaster — that idea of the car crashes we can’t look away from, the moments of terror and destruction we replay over and over again.

When the exhibit first opened, artist Raphael Montanez Ortiz performed a “Piano Destruction Concert,” taking an ax to the instrument. Ai Wei Wei’s controversial, famed self-portraits of himself slamming rare Han Dynasty urns to the ground are also among the high-profile pieces featured. Take a look at more pieces from the show by scrolling below — we compiled some

Damage Control

Image: Hirshhorn Museum

Ori Gersht, Big Bang. 

Gersht’s slow-motion exploding vases are breath-taking. Take a full look here:

Damage Control

Image: Hirshhorn Museum

Harold E. Edgerton, Kenneth J. Germeshausen, Herbert Grier.

MIT Professor of Electrical Engineering Harold Edgerton led this series of films of nuclear detonations. He and his partners were hired by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to document bomb experiments.

Damage Control

Image: Hirshhorn Museum

Laurel Nakadate, “Greater New York,” 2005.

A still from Nakadate’s films of the World Trade Center’s collapse.

Damage Control

Image: Hirshhorn Museum

Raphael Montanez Ortiz, “Piano Destruction Concert,” recreated 2013.

A shot from Ortiz’s reprise of his piano destruction concert.

damage control

Image: Hirshhorn Musuem


Jeff Wall, “The Destroyed Room,” 1978.

Julyssa Lopez’s first loves are long books and long pieces of writing, but she also can’t resist dreamy ambient music, tiny art galleries, or ice cold lemonade. She comes from a loud Nicaraguan family and constantly has that dream where your teeth fall out.

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