Solvent form

Art and destruction

By Jared Pappas-Kelley

Solvent form


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2926-0
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: November 2018
  • BIC Category: Art History, Theory of art, ART / History / Contemporary (1945-), ART / Criticism & Theory, The arts / History of art / art & design styles, The arts / Theory of art


This book is about the destruction of art, both in terms of objects that have been destroyed - lost in fires, floods or vandalism - and the general concept of art operating through object and form. Through re-examinations of such events as the Momart warehouse fire in 2004 and the activities of art thief Stéphane Breitwieser, the book proposes an idea of solvent form hinging on the dual meaning in the words solvent and solvency, whereby art, while attempting to make secure or fixed, simultaneously undoes and destroys through its inception. Ultimately, the book questions what is it that may be perceived in the destruction of art and how we understand it, and further how it might be linked to a more general failure.


'Solvent form is an important new addition to a constellation of recent texts that have addressed destruction and art [.] but while acknowledging their content, this book does far more than summarise their narratives, since Jared Pappas-Kelley's study develops its own radical take on the subject. Signalling from the outset that Solvent form will be "an undoing process", the average reader will scarcely be prepared for his in-depth, fastidiously researched examination, quotational density (248 endnotes by page 45), and a bombshell of a conclusion. Pappas-Kelley enlists destruction - through fire, theft, disappearance or design - as a critical reagent showing up previously hard-to-discern, internal or "solvent" characteristics of all artworks.'
Michael Hampton, Art Monthly (2019)


1 The destruction of art
2 Art and permeable moments
3 Solvent form
4 The thing that is not a thing
5 Things lie


Jared Pappas-Kelley is a visual artist and Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Teesside University

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