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Auto-destructive art

How the German artist Gustav Metzger came up with a new and subversive form of art that shocked and delighted audiences.

In 1959 the German artist Gustav Metzger came up with a new and subversive form of art. He called it auto-destructive art. It was art as a political weapon and a challenge to the established status quo. Metzger, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, organised a series of events in London, called the Destruction in Art Symposium, DIAS, and invited radical artists from all over the world, including a relatively unknown young Japanese American, Yoko Ono.
Mike Lanchin has been hearing from Welsh artist Ivor Davies, who helped Metzger launch the events and was himself an early pioneer of auto-destructive art.

Photo: Gustav Metzger demonstrates his auto-destructive art at London's South Bank, July 1961 (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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