Sic Transit.

One of the functions of art in the classical tradition is to capture the ephemeral, to make it permanent, to capture what’s fleeting and make it permanent. From the moment we’re born we start dying, but art can stop that, freeze what melts away. That’s just one idea of what art is supposed to do, but it’s a widespread idea and one that’s lasted and influenced art for thousands of years. Even as so many works have disappeared that idea has held one. Maybe that’s why, of all the graffiti I’ve collected, of all the graffiti I’ve seen, even of all the art I’ve seen, this is one of my favorite works.

It’s simple but well made, with details added by the artist and details added by the artist and details added by chance, by the wall that served as its canvas. The figures are skeletal but the gold suggests an Egyptian pharaoh’s sarcophagus: a lasting monument to a short life. I don’t know how long it had been there when I found it, when I took this picture, but the paint was starting to peel in some places, a natural underlining that nothing lasts forever.

And that, too, is a function of art: to remind us that nothing lasts forever.

 

6 Comments

  1. Ann Koplow

    Glorious. So glad you’re here.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m so happy to have you here too.

      Reply
  2. Chuck Baudelaire

    That picture is one of my favorites that you’ve ever posted. And it’s a humbling reminder that all a work of art has to do is touch one person – even if it’s just its creator – to live forever.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s one of my favorites too and I wish I knew who created it so I could thank them for creating such a touching work, and to let them know that even now that it’s gone its memory still lives on.

      Reply
  3. mydangblog

    It’s truly beautiful–reminds me of something from Pompeii. So sad to think it was erased, but I’m glad you captured it.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad you mentioned Pompeii. I hadn’t even thought of that, but it is very reminiscent of some of the figures from there. It’s the nature of graffiti that it often doesn’t last, but I’m lucky if I can capture some good stuff.

      Reply

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