Ulrike Lehmann
Endre Tót and the aesthetics of absence


Already in 1953 Robert Rauschenberg rubbed out an original drawing made by his artist colleague Willem de Kooning, put the now empty drawing into a golden frame, signed it and gave it a new title: “Rubbed Out de Kooning Drawing”. Such an act of aesthetics as the destruction of an already existing picture by rubbing it out found its overtone in the dematerialising trend of the 60s and 70s in the USA and then in Europe, e.g. in Ad Reinhardt’s ultimate pictures, in fluxus or in Yves Klein’s works. Endre Tót probably was not familiar with Rauschenberg’s work, yet in regard to the artistic method used the latter can be linked to Tót’s work, even though Tót did not destroy an original work but only repainted reproductions. Rauschenberg’s previously mentioned work, just like the works made by Tót in the 70s, pry into the question of the perception and reality of pictures…

Such an act when an artist destroys already existing works is the “aesthetics of absence”. This term is used for works that make original works absent by way of the ritual of concealment or by the refusal to show them. At the same time, the aesthetic quality of the Absent comes into being through the reinterpretation of a work of art.

(source: Endre Tót: Semmi sem semmi [Nothing Is Nothing], retrospective 1965-1995, Műcsarnok, Budapest, 1995, pp. 13-14)

(English translation by Krisztina Sarkady-Hart)

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