Happy Valentine’s Day



A challenge from SFMoMA to write a love letter to one of their works of art. I immediately thought of Rauschenberg and couldn’t resist.

| Date: January 31, 2012 2:55:11 PM PST
| To: SFMOMAsays@sfmoma.org
| Subject:
| Love Letter to Rauschenberg's Erased de Kooning Drawing

And yes, I deleted each word one by one and did not do a select-all first.

That this was caught by their spam filter amuses me even more.


This was not only a wise-ass response. Yes, it’s meant to be too clever by half. And no, I did not expect to actually win anything.

At the same time, my letter to Erased de Kooning is completely honest. Divulging what I erased goes against the spirit of things but there is a lot to say about the piece.* It is arguably the most important piece in SFMoMA’s collection** yet it’s more often out on loan than it is on display in the museum. It’s one of those pieces which falls right into the “why is this art?” dilemma and forces people to think and talk about what it means. It’s easily mistaken for trash.*** And it double dips in the “does the creator really matter?” question by involving both Rauschenberg and de Kooning in the piece.

*Assuming the letter I erased is one I even wrote to begin with.

**Distinct from the most-iconic pieces which, right now, appear to be either Femme au chapeau or Frieda and Diego Rivera. Iconic pieces are the important ones which can move merchandise and draw visitors. Important ones are the glue which hold the museum itself together. And no, I don’t think it should go out on loan as much as it does.

***Hence my amusement at the spam filter catching my email.

It also totally sets up my entry for next year. I already plan on sending instructions to re-erase this year’s entry every year à la Rauschenberg’s White Paintings.


Holy Crap! They got it!

Although this love letter lacks the hearts and glitter of a traditional valentine, it takes the soul of the work to which it is addressed into the future, and isn’t that the deepest kind of love?

And I was just going for an honorable mention “this made us laugh” award.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

5 thoughts on “Happy Valentine’s Day”

  1. Pingback: Loot! | n j w v

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