Milan Knížák

ART IS ONLY A CRUTCH, undated (c.1979)
A4 card with drawing, collage and large bolt. Illustrated in Artzien, Amsterdam. Signed on verso. 296 x 210 mm.

The collage was produced to coincide with Knížák’s ‘Art is Only a Crutch’ exhibition that took place in Amsterdam in 1980, and included a performance, some works on paper, as well as a series of Knížák’s Broken Records. The collage references themes developed by Knížák in the 1960s, together with the Aktual Group, which staged playful happenings in the streets of Prague. Aktual aimed to dissolve art in life entirely, claiming that changing lived reality could be art’s only true purpose. The collage makes a similar point by proposing that art is but a crutch ‘which may help you to make your life more senseful, more meaningful…’ and which becomes unnecessary when ‘life is good enough.’ Illustrated in Artzien Vol.2, Nos 6/7 (April /May 1980).


Untitled (Destroyed Music), 1979
Burnt vinyl record, 290 mm diameter, adhesive sticker initialled and dated by artist. This artwork is part of a series of altered vinyl records titled Destroyed Music (1963–79).

Knížák recalled that his experiments with Destroyed Music began in 1963, when he purchased his first record player. He soon grew bored of the relatively small number of records he owned, and started experimenting with playing them at higher speeds. This damaged the records and eventually produced ‘an entirely new music.’ Knížák continued to experiment with altering records by burning, scratching, breaking, burning, sanding and applying paint to them. Although initially conceived as ‘objects’ rather than actual records, in 1979 the Italian composer Walter Marchetti assembled the first recording of Destroyed Music, released by the Italian Multhipla Records label that specialised in recordings by artists.