Bits Falling Off.

016The very nature of graffiti is that it’s ephemeral. Technically that’s true of all art, some works more than others. Gericault’s Raft Of The Medusa for instance looks like a well-preserved painting but the artist’s heavy use of bitumen, which gave it a nice sheen but is chemically unstable, mean the whole thing is a preservation nightmare and gradually breaking down. Maybe it’s fitting that Gericault said, “No sooner do we come into this world than bits of us start to fall off.” And that’s true of all art. In the classical view art was supposed to be a stab at immortality, something that would survive long after the artist was dust. The reality is nothing lasts forever, and most graffiti gets painted over a short time after it goes up.

And that’s what I thought of when I saw these two tags. Neither one’s all that great and the placement was probably purely accidental, but look at how the shadow of the tree falls across them. The shadow is visibly ephemeral—when it’s visible. On a cloudy day it’s gone but even on a sunny day it moves and changes. The tree changes too. It’s grown and spread, but with the cold weather its leaves have changed color and are falling off.

The tree itself has been there for years, maybe even decades, but even if gentrification or just somebody’s whim don’t take it down it’ll eventually die. All of it reminds me that nothing lasts forever.

Seen any graffiti you want to share? Send your pictures to and be credited here.

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  1. Maria F.

    Cristopher, I did not know you had been ill. Yes, I’m the one who drives Ann crazy with cats. I hope you have a speedy recovery.

    If you visit my blog, you will see it’s all about plants, so it might be boring to you, I don’t know. I’ve also been trying to deal with the graffiti conundrum, but where I live the cars obstruct the view. Yes, they call it “ephemeral art” I guess because it’s exposed to the elements, but then everything is ephemeral. I didn’t know about Gericault’s Raft Of The Medusa either.

    I hope you get well soon.



    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Maria, welcome! I always enjoy your comments on Ann’s blog and I was hoping for some Grumpy Cat graffiti here. Well, maybe next time. And I’m a big fan of all sorts of plants. I’ve tried my hand at growing carnivorous plants, orchids, and some extremely exotic succulents. So I might find your blog extremely interesting. And plants are another reminder of the ephemerality of everything.

  2. Ann Koplow

    Nothing lasts for ever but, as far as I can tell, no bits of me fell off while I was reading this post. Thanks, Chris.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m very glad to hear that. If any bits had fallen off of you I’d feel responsible.


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